Paula Stahlman

Living with MBC


I tried so hard to deny that large lump. I told myself it’s nothing, no one in my bloodline has ever had breast cancer, I breastfed, that’s supposed to weaken your chances….I would tell myself anything. I wouldn’t touch my breasts, every time I thought about that lump I would push it from my mind. Then I would set a deadline, after my birthday next month I’ll go have it checked out, just one more birthday cancer free. I saw my primary and got the order for the mammogram. I went alone, because it was going to be nothing right? I mean if I took someone with me then I was admitting that it would be bad news. The mammogram was so painful! They’re always uncomfortable, you end up on your tiptoes while they squeeze your breasts. But this was excruciating, I broke down in sobs, I knew then, there was no more pretending there was nothing to fear. The pulsating pain in my left breast would not allow me to lie to myself anymore. You messed up Paula, why did you miss 3 years of mammograms, what will you do now? I had the ultrasound and the needle biopsy that same day. The doctor expressed her concern, very much concerned. Afterwards I spoke with the Nurse Facilitator, herself a cancer survivor. Tears and questions and very little answers. Later the call, yes it’s cancer. I still hadn’t heard the worst, that would come the day I met with my oncologist, because it had spread to my lymph nodes, I had stage 4 breast cancer, now the bricks. I credit my family who didn’t fall apart, my doctor who never pulled any punches and my husband who wouldn’t let me give up, who made me fight, told me I was strong and gave me no other choice but to be strong…I credit them and the Lord Almighty for my recovery. With every chemo session the tumor got smaller and I felt myself getting stronger. I shaved my hair and the girl who rarely wore makeup got made up every 3 weeks for my date with the infusion lab. 6 sessions and my PET scan came back clean. It’s been a year and 4 more clean PET scans but I still get scared after each of them. I’m hoping to get over that fear someday.