Looking back, I can’t help but to wonder how I made it through what I thought was the hardest time of my life. Yet, I feel so blessed to still be here enjoying the best thing that ever happened in my life, my beautiful daughter who was 9 years old at the time. I have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer 5 separate times - in 2004, 2007, 2013 and Kidney Cancer once in 2014, 2016 and now again in 2017. The worst was in 2007; I remember being told that they’d found signs of what they thought could be cancer and having to have a biopsy done to determine the results. The wait was unbearable and all I could think was how long I would have to live. I couldn’t eat or be left alone at any time because I felt so scared. The day came and I received the call from the doctor that he wanted to see me in his office to discuss the results. He said I was not even at a stage one but because of my age he highly recommended that I do an aggressive treatment plan that included 6 rounds of chemotherapy and a flap (which is a cut on your stomach from left to right) to remove tissue to create a left breast during a 7-hour reconstruction surgery. The doctor didn’t sugar coat anything, I was told that after the flap I would feel like I’d been run over by an 18-wheeler and that once I recovered the chemotherapy would be next. I thought I was being selfish when I broke down after hearing that I would lose all of my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes: the doctor pointed out that losing the hair is the number one reason that women cry so not to feel bad. I could not imagine what it would be like until the day came that I ran my hand through my hair and loads of hair would come with it. Not wanting to I went to my hair dresser and had her cut my hair as short as possible. I hid many times just crying. After, I would give myself a pep talk on how I needed to be strong for my baby girl and my parents that were taking care of me at the time; I couldn’t let them see me fall apart and it actually helped me to be so much stronger. Therefore, when people tell me how strong I am I think to myself if they only knew. Although, I can’t stand to look at a needle and was now being poked for chemo every three weeks. By the second week I'd start to feel better and the third week would come and I’d start to feel bad all over again. I lost all of my hair and the worry of returning to work wearing a wig was another scary time for me. I continued going for chemo and going to work for the rest of my sessions. I made it through and a year later my hair started growing back.
Unfortunately, I had just finished my radiation for my breast cancer in 2016 this February 2017 and I am now again faced with breast cancer on the same side. What makes this time so much scarier is the cancer has now metastasized (spread) to one my lymph nodes on my right breast which is the opposite side from where my main site of cancer has been. This is what my Doctor considers a stage 3. I immediately started panicking and asking myself where else did it travel? And how did it get there? It wasn't until I had my Pet Scan and was told they didn’t see it anywhere else that I filled with relief but knew it was still going to be a longer and harder journey than I have had in the past. I am having to do aggressive chemo every two weeks and chemo pills daily for the next 3 months to try to shrink it down enough for surgery. My daughter is now 18 and just started college at UIW and I just want the best for her and to see her follow her dream in becoming a nurse. I thank God every day for allowing me to still be in the world and share my story.
For all of you women that feel a lump, always follow your instincts they are almost always right. Don’t be afraid to get checked because mammograms can save your life. We are a lot stronger than we think. God is great …
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