My Journey from Breast Cancer
I do not have a family history of any type of cancer. The furthest thing from my mind was that one day I would join the “pink ribbon club” but all of that changed on Thursday, January 29, 2009 when I discovered a lump in my left breast. I followed up with my doctor the next week and we decided to watch it for a month. My second appointment was on March 4 and since the tumor had not changed, my doctor sent me for another mammogram, ultrasound and needle biopsy. I was told on St. Patrick’s Day that the results of the needle biopsy indicated that the tumor was cancerous.My doctor recommended that I go to the breast cancer center at CHI Health Lakeside. My MRI and surgery consultation were on March 19. My lumpectomy surgery was on March 25. The outcome was the best we could have hoped for – clean margins and the lymph nodes were not affected. My tumor size was actually stage two, but the tumor size did not fit with the rest of my results. So the surgeon recommended that I have the oncology type test performed on my tumor. The results of the test were that my risk of recurrence was low enough that the oncologist did not recommend chemotherapy. I had six weeks of radiation.
I also participated in the nurse navigator program. Nicole was an invaluable resource to us. She helped to make appointments, went on appointments with us – while she took notes we could listen and then she sent us a typed copy of her notes.
I think that there were several key things that I have learned. It is a humbling experience to have to ask for help and to admit your limitations to yourself. I found that I have an amazing support group of family and friends. It was so helpful to me to reach out to other people. Be good to yourself. Prioritize your activities and enjoy life. Throughout my diagnosis, recovery from surgery, and treatment, I tried to keep a positive attitude and stayed very focused on what I needed to think about each day. I tried not to get too far ahead of myself or worry about things that might not happen.
I have been cancer free for 18 months and I continue to heal. I am working on nutrition, exercise and stress-reducing techniques to maximize my health going forward.
In closing I would just remind everyone to make sure that you are taking care of yourself, you know your body better than anyone else. The key to a positive outcome is early diagnosis.