Living with MBC
At the age of 29, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I felt a lump on my right breast. We had just moved into our new house and I thought I had done something to injure it during that time. So, I waited a couple of weeks and it got bigger and started to hurt. I went to my obgyn and we all thought it was a fluid filled cyst, but wanted to have a mammogram just to be safe. So, on September 23, 2008, I went and had the mammogram done. The radiologist came out to talk to me after and showed me my films. His words were, “I just don’t like what I see. Can we do a biopsy today?” I agreed and was to follow up on that Friday for results with my doctor.
That Thursday, exactly two weeks after my 30th birthday, I got a call at work. “Angel, the doctor would like to see you at 4. Can you be here in 45 minutes?” “Sure can.” I hung that phone up and knew it wasn’t good news. I was told those words: you have cancer. At that point, I was stage 3 with a very aggressive triple negative cancer.
Within a week, all treatments began. If there was a complication, I had it and more — only to find out later I was stage 4 with a small chance to survive. I fought hard and even had a double mastectomy. At the time, I had three baby girls and wanted to make sure I was here to watch them grow up. I’ve been left with lots of damage but continue to fight the fight every day. Cold weather is no longer my friend. I was left with permanent nerve damage from my back and all the way down my legs. I now have lymphedema from the double mastectomy. I am still battling the memory issues and have been to several doctors who have all told me that I will just have to find new ways of learning, remembering and coping because it is as good as I will get.
I was unable to finish my treatments because I was having so much difficulty that even required me to have way more steroids than I should have had. I gained 104lbs with the whole process.
My most unforgettable memory during treatment was when I was laying in my bed with my two youngest girls watching Christmas movies the evening I had a treatment. My youngest looks me right in the eyes and says, “Mommy, will you be here next Christmas?” That was when I really changed my whole attitude on things.
My advice to someone who has just been diagnosed is to look beyond the current picture and just make sure that you take care of yourself first. Never be afraid to tell someone that you’re not feeling up to visitors or wanting to talk on the phone.
Having breast cancer has changed my life in so many ways. I now never take anything for granted. I want to travel and see the world. I always tell my girls I love them multiple times a day instead of mostly just bedtime. I try to always be happy and let the negative things and people disappear from my life.
Hope and strength come from those who surround you with love, help and support. They are the ones who really care about you. My hope came from finding myself reading my Bible again and focusing on God’s Word. My favorite quote became, “I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me!” – Philippians 4:13. And of course, my hope and strength came from my FAMILY!
This biggest thing someone who is either a co-survivor or a friend can do for someone going through treatments is never ask them what you can do for them, just come and do something. It can be to clean their house, cook a meal for them, take their kids away for a few hours and little things like that. I would never tell someone what needed to be done at my house or answer them if they asked because I felt guilty.
A few months ago, I had the honor of entering a contest for Bowl for a Cure. I was chosen to become one of the 2015 Fabulous Four with three other wonderful and inspiring women. Along the way we got to meet some very amazing people not only at USBC, but at Susan G. Komen as well. We were flown to Texas and put up in a very nice hotel. We got to go to the USBC and Susan G. Komen headquarters, and the International Bowling Training and Research Center, where we also got to meet and bowl with some amazing gals from team USA and work with the Team USA coach. We were able to go on a shopping spree and of course we ate well. When they say everything in Texas is bigger, that includes their food! From Texas we then got to fly to Reno, NV and the Fabulous Four threw out the opening ceremonial ball for the women’s USBC tournament. We also met some more amazing people from USBC and another member of Team USA. For me, this experience was a chance of a lifetime but not because of what we got to do, but because of the friendships and sisterhoods that came out of this!
A couple of my favorite memories were when we went to tour Susan G. Komen and we walked around the corner into a conference room where it was filled with a crowd who was applauding for us. There was not a dry eye in the house! That support that we got to see there was what makes you realize the fight was worth it! Then we had an amazing time shopping with Ashley and Rachel from Susan G Komen. There was Jeff from USBC who also took on the responsibility of taking care of us through it all. Thanks Jeff! Then, there was throwing out the inauguration ceremonial ball in Reno and of course just meeting the other ladies, Ann, Chelsea and Tavawyaha! They will now be forever my sisters!
A huge Thank you to USBC, Susan G. Komen and everyone we met for everything you did and continue to do to raise breast cancer awareness.