Diagnosed in April 2013 at age 35
I can’t believe I am actually sitting here about to write my “breast cancer story”. It was always something I read about, or had pity for someone else. Not me… Of course, this could never happen to me. I was a healthy, 35 year old special education teacher with a 3 year old daughter, great husband and the perfect life.
I was in Marco Island for the weekend with my family. We were enjoying the perfect day on the beach…I had to lather myself with some sunscreen and that was the beginning of my journey. As I was putting on my SPF 50, I felt a little knot on the side of my boob…I told my husband and of course he told me “it was nothing”. I had always felt lumps and all sorts of stuff in my boobs, but this felt different. That night on the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I would go and see my doctor tomorrow and he would tell me its nothing.
The next day, I called my doctor and got a 1:00 appointment. He felt my lump and told me that it is probably nothing, but just to be sure, he sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound. Of course, my husband was with me. We drove over to the imaging place and I was sitting in the waiting room snapping selfies of myself in this silly robe waiting for my reassurance that this lump was nothing. A nurse finally called me back and did my mammogram. It was painless and easy. Then, I went into another room and had an ultrasound. Making small talk with the tech, I was trying to read her. She has a straight face, and I was convinced everything looked normal. My husband and I were asked to wait in a small office. A few minutes later, the radiologist came in and had no expression on his face. He sat there and told my husband and I that it looks like cancer. He said he was 99% sure but wanted to do a biopsy to make sure. The room closed in on me and I actually became numb. It didn’t feel real.
Of course, the biopsy confirmed our worst nightmare. This was happening to me.
The next few days were the worst. I had no direction, and didn’t know who to call, what to do. Finally, my husband and I found a great surgeon and an oncologist that we felt comfortable with. 14 days after I was diagnosed, I had the lump removed. 24 days after that, I started chemo. That scared me. I was going to be a bald mess throwing up every hour…What was I going to tell my daughter?
My first chemo, watching the needle go into me was SCARY. The nurses were literally angels. They made me feel like there was an end to this, and that I would make it through. My first chemo was actually uneventful. I felt fine, until my hair started coming out. Holy cow, I really was going to be bald. This was real.
With the help of my brother, husband and my 3 year old daughter, I shaved my long blonde hair. I didn’t have a choice. It was either going to be me doing it or the drugs that were destroying my body. We did it…It was painless..My daughter thought it was fun…She know that mom had to take medicine that would mess up my hair. I looked in the mirror and I was BALD…That was the worst part for me.
Chemo was our summer. We still managed to travel, and laugh. We had tons of family and friends in and out for support and help. It was do-able. When I was finally done, I sat in the chair next to my mom and my husband and we were relieved when we saw “INFUSION COMPLETE”. I WAS DONE….WE made it.
The next step was surgery and reconstruction. I wasn’t sad or nervous to part with my boobs…..See ya!!!! Surgery was uneventful…..NOTHING compared to getting poison pumped into my body for 4 months.
Now, over a year and 5 surgeries later…I am here…It has been a crazy, unreal and emotional ride but my family and my friends have been beside me and I am here….You learn a lot of things in tragic times and I have learned to embrace life…You realize a lot about people and learn a lot about yourself….I am amazed how strong I am..And, so are you.