|I'm the one in pink.|
It's cancer; and you need to see a surgeon. Nobody ever wants to hear those words, and on November 13, 2005 it became my reality. I should've known something was awry when I sat for an hour in a hospital gown waiting for my doctor!
Thank God for mammograms. Mine was caught early. No palpable lump ( if you can't feel it or see it, the reality of it is much harder to grasp.) A needlecore biopsy confirmed it. The plethora of treatments/options thrown at me was unbelievable. So many decisions had to be made. I was blessed with an extremely talented pool of doctors whom I trust (although, in my case, sometimes talent outweighs compassion).
This isn't my first bout with cancer. My mother died of stage III fallopian tubal carcinoma when she was only 55 (I was 38). She lived only 21 months after her diagnosis; several surgeries and two rounds of chemo. Her advanced cancer was so hard. Ugly really. Although we had related gynecological cancers, I was found to be BRCA gene negative. However, because I was diagnosed at age 45, my daughter will begin mammograms at age 35 (ten-years-earlier-than-my-diagnosis). God...please protect her from this disease.
It seems that a stage 0 - non-invasive ductile carcinoma with no lymph node involvement is the good kind of cancer. In 2006, I had six surgeries, six recoveries, and 14 weeks of not working. The good kind of cancer? I still have some residual effects from lymph node removal in my right arm. I still have yearly mammograms that bring a month of worry before the actual test and a week or two after awaiting results. Throw in another view (or a repeat mammogram) and I am a basket case! The good kind of cancer? Cancer is cancer. Mine was caught early. Although mammograms cause me great distress, I cannot promote their effectiveness enough.
I will forever be grateful to my family and friends. I was able to draw on a friend's vast experience with this ugly disease and leaned on her heavily. She allowed me to ask questions - personal questions. She allowed me to vent. Allowed me to cry. Offered her support and listened. She even offered to let me see and touch her scars. Her experience helped me make my own decisions. You see, we sisters-of-the-pink-ribbon must pay it forward. No one really understands what is going on unless you've been there. We understand the diagnosis. We know the lingo. We are compassionate. We have hope. We fight. Together.
Fast forward...six years. I'm healthy & happy. I am thankful for the wonderful support from my family and friends along this journey. To be diagnosed with cancer is not easy. Most days, I don't feel like a cancer survivor. I just feel like me.