I have been pretty healthy most of my life and never really had to worry about health conditions. I was lucky and did not inherit high blood pressure or diabetes that runs in our family. In 2013 my partner had just turned 50 and I was fast approaching it so we decided we needed to make some lifestyle changes. I quit smoking, we started to be more active and had even purchased bicycles to ride in our spare time. We ate less fried foods, more fresh vegetables and were really making progress with getting on the right track for a healthier ‘old’ life.
While changing our three month old grandchild I leaned over to give her a raspberry on her belly, when she kicked with excitement she hit my right breast there was a lot more pain than there should have been. When I rubbed my breast I found the lump, I had my partner check it and with her being a nurse she urged me to schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately. I had a strong feeling that I was going to be diagnosed with breast cancer once I felt the lump. I am not sure if I was being cynical, had some kind of intuition or what actually gave me this feeling but I think in many ways it gave me time to prepare myself before actually hearing the doctors confirmation. My doctor barely touched me at the appointment, but said yes we need to schedule a mammogram. She walked out of the room and was on the phone making the appointment before I could get off the exam table.
On May 26, 2015, I had a mammogram and ultrasound. The radiologist came into the room and ask if I had someone with me. My head was spinning but yet it wasn’t. I said “do I need to call someone”? She said “I can’t be sure until I get the biopsy back, but it looks like cancer”. After the biopsy, she told me that she shared with me what the possibilities were and to be prepared before I left. She wanted me to know something before I left instead of hearing it first hand over the phone. May 28, 2015 is a day I will never forget because I was officially diagnosed with cancer, Stage II Triple negative d invasive ductal carcinoma. The end of May will now have another memory to add. May 26 is my mother’s birthday, May 28 is the day she passed and the day I found out my life would change forever.
On May 29, 2015, I drove 3 ½ hour journey to Evansville Indian to give my daughter the news. She is an event planner and was prepping for a Bat Mitzvah the next day. I drove there alone and thought about the best way and time to tell her. Would Friday night while she was making center pieces and last minute prep work or on Saturday the day of the Bar Mitzvah when she would be extremely busy or Sunday before I would go back to Kentucky. I decided to tell her on Saturday in between events. I can say that I have never been that scared in my life. She took it well on the surface as I told her all the information that I knew to that point. I hugged her and she told me that we would get through it and not to worry. She left her apartment to continue her events and didn’t show a lot of emotion at the time. She showed tremendous strength threw out the weekend only to find out later it didn’t hit her until she saw me again a month later, one chemo therapy treatment in. No hair and eyebrows. I can only imagine what went through her head.
My partner has given me the reassurance that all we be ok. No matter how tall the hill or hard and long the battle we are in this together and she will be there every step of the way. The encouragement from her is very overwhelming. With her knowledge of medical terminology she has been able to explain the procedures in a way that I fully understand which takes away some of the fear as each day passes. When I get down and cannot get out of my own head. She will listen to my woe is me then she quickly steps in and brings me back to a comfortable place. Reminds me to think and be positive. She has taking over the daily ins and outs of maintaining our home and continues to work her 8 to 5.
My treatment was to have 6 rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor as it was measured at 3.5 cm. My surgeon said a smaller tumor would make procedure easier for him as well as on me. Family and friends made the first 3 treatment as pleasant as could be. A treatment day bag was put together which included a blanket, candy, magazines, a Kindle, Sudoku puzzles, lotions to name a few items.
After the third treatment my Oncologist ordered a mammogram with ultrasound. WOW the tumor had shrunk over half in size. I was walking on cloud nine, only to hear from my Oncologist that he was not happy with the shrinkage. His response was “It has not responded as I has hoped”. Surgery was scheduled for following week for a bilateral mastectomy. October 1, 2015 I will resume my chemotherapy treatments.
I get inspiration from God, my daughter and my partner and a host of friends.
Without God I have nothing.
My daughter is my greatest accomplishments. I am so proud of the successful young woman she has become. She has always been strong but I never knew to what extent until we started down this journey. She has been there for me and I gather my strength knowing I need to make it through this to be there for her.
My partner has told me on numerous occasions how strong I was. I never saw it but again I have to be for this fight as she needs me and I need her. I do not know what I would do without her patience and understanding.
Friends will show up when you are in need of pick me ups, and I have a host of them. They created a Facebook page and have updated each other during my treatments and surgery. It seems like daily someone is posting some positive quote to give me encouragement.
If I had to give advice to someone who was recently diagnosed I think I would tell them to remain positive. Don’t let the disease beat you when you first hear the diagnosis. Remember to breathe and as long as you have a heartbeat you have a purpose, find out what that purpose is. Don’t get me wrong, I had some rough times but with the help of family and friends I was able to get back up and start fighting. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your support network is there for you and they are struggling too, they don’t know what you need or what to do, so just ask. And remember just breathe….