In August 2004, my husband and I made a short trip to our farm near Grand Lake in northeastern Oklahoma. We love to go there that time of year when it’s so pretty and peaceful. One day we rode our 4-wheeler to the back pasture and walked around to look for wild grapes. As we were headed back, I noticed several small ticks crawling around on my shoes. I tried to shake them off, but that’s hard to do because they are so persistent. They can stick to your socks and move all around before you know it. We always check for ticks after being in the wooded areas, so when we got home we changed clothes and did our usual “once-over.”
I didn’t notice any ticks attached to my body right away, but a couple of days later I did find one on the back of my right shoulder. I removed it and thought nothing more about it until several days later when I developed a temperature of 101 degrees and generally felt lousy. I had read all of the horror stories about Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, so I decided I should see a doctor.
He said I had the symptoms of a tick-related illness and put me on antibiotics for ten days. I went home from the doctor’s office and fell into bed where I spent most of those next ten days. It was during this period that I found a lump in my left breast. No one in my family had ever had breast cancer so I wasn’t immediately alarmed, but I decided I should check it out anyway. And since I was still feeling terrible from the tick bite, I thought maybe if I saw the doctor again he could do something to make me feel better. I was sort of desperate at this point.
I went to the Breast Center a day or so later. The doctor felt the lump and immediately suggested a biopsy, which was done during that same visit. The next day I was devastated to learn I had DCIS. I was scheduled for a lumpectomy in September 2004, about two weeks after diagnosis. It turned out that I had Stage I invasive DCIS with no lymph node involvement. After a recuperative period from surgery, I began a series of 33 radiation treatments, finishing around Christmas of 2004.
Today, I am a one-year survivor and so very thankful to be alive. The loving prayers of all of my friends and family and the kindness and compassion of the doctors and hospital staff meant so much to me during this very emotional time of my life. I strongly believe that God sent me the “Angel Tick” to draw attention to the lump. It’s as if he were saying to me, “Linda, you have a problem, but we will work together and take care of it.”
Thank you, God, for my life today. It is great and I am enjoying every minute of it.