February 2016, I woke up one morning and felt a lump in my left breast. A rather large lump and it hurt so bad. It was bruised and odd. I am a mom of a 2-yr. old, well four kids but the youngest being 2. I honestly thought that maybe holding him on that side, he maybe had elbowed me or something so I just let it go. After a week, it didn’t stop hurting and wasn’t going away but in fact getting worse. I remember dropping to my knees and crying and praying because I had this deep sinking feeling in my gut this could be cancer!
I’m optimistic so I pulled myself together and hoped for the best. I did what most people do and googled cancer symptoms lol. From what I read, I thought this sounds more like a cyst so I scheduled an apt with my Ob doctor, since after all I had just seen them a year ago with pregnancy for little man. They did an exam and said that it felt like a cyst and it would likely go away on its own. The doctor said she still recommends that I have a mammogram to be safe. Well, I was super excited to hear the good news. I didn’t find the urgency to go get a mammogram of course. Though, in the back of my mind, I still had a weird feeling about it.
I let it go and around March things just kept getting worse. The symptoms of breast cancer became more obvious. The lump seemed bigger, more swollen and now my skin started dimpling and had nipple inversion. That sinking feeling came back and I thought, Okay, enough ignoring this, it isn’t going away and you need to take care of it rather than be in “denial”. I called up Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center for a mammogram. I went with my two-year-old. Just me and him. The nurses helped me as they understood I am a single mom with family in another state and no childcare for him. Right after the mammogram, the doctors were very concerned and wanted me to have a biopsy and more testing.
April 20th, a day I will never forget (2 days before my twins 11th birthday), I went for the biopsy with my 2-year-old and a good friend by my side. My fears came alive that day. I had been hoping that sinking feeling was wrong of course. They had to wait for results from the biopsy to give me official results because the tumors could have been non cancerous, however the ultrasound was showing large tumors in my breast and more than one. Largest measuring 8 cm. That’s the one I felt and was bruised back in Feb. There were other smaller lumps as well. Doctors were highly concerned that there could be cancer also in my lymph nodes and had spread outside the breast!! I cried of course! Hugged my son and my friend. Then sucked it up and said Okay doctor, where do we go from here?? More scans needed to be done. I enjoyed the weekend with my kids and my twins 11th birthday. Kept this from them until further notice (or official results) and wanted them to enjoy their birthday. Called my mom and cried with her but assured her I would be okay. Monday rolled around and I found out my results for sure from the biopsy. I’ve known since February that I had cancer in my heart deep down though I tried hard to convince myself it wasn’t. I heard from the doctor’s mouth to confirm these fears in April.
By now, I have accepted it and just want to move forward with whatever treatment necessary to start healing me. I sat my kids down that night to have a talk with them. I just explained to my four children how much I love them; how much God loves me and how we are all going to get through this together as a team like we always have. Mommy has cancer and I’m going to be okay. There were lots of questions, tears and hugs. The room was filled with love and support and I’ve never felt more loved. My children have always been my rock. As I am theirs. God at the center of all of it! I explain that I was no longer scared because I’ve prayed many prayers and I know God is in control.
Naturally some things made me sad, like having to lose my hair and how much things were going to change but I didn’t give much life to those fears. I cried, let it out then pulled myself together. I tell myself, “if you are alive and breathing air, all the other stuff is just temporary like trials I’ve gotten through in the past, this is temporary, hair will grow back and maybe by the end of this I will have new boobs, hey who wouldn’t be happy about that??? LOL” But seriously, I remind my kids daily that I am still the same person on the inside. And always will be! Cancer can’t take that from me. I will still be the fun, silly, very hyper mother they have always loved. We laugh, cried, laugh some more and have been moving forward ever since. The next day I started calling family and friends and letting them know. After all when someone you love has cancer, you have cancer too, it affects everyone you love. Telling them makes you feel less alone though. You don’t have to go through this alone. I quickly realized that, and felt better about it all. It gave me a sense of added strength! TOGETHER WE FIGHT! AND WILL WIN THIS BATTLE!
A couple weeks after my first chemo started I found out through scans results that the cancer was for sure in my lymph nodes and IN MY LIVER!! STAGE 4 CANCER!! After that new shocker wore off, I said okay so what’s the plan?? Lets get a plan in place and kick this! Then I went home and started thinking. This cancer has been growing for years and the estrogen from the birth of my son sped up the growth of the lump, so I was able to feel and find it. My son Jayce was my saving grace. He was the child I never knew I always needed. That baby played part in saving my life! I may have never found the cancer. There were no signs of it before this. And the birth of my son didn’t give me cancer, it helped me FIND IT!!!!! Doctors told me this has been growing for a while now!! I have never had a stronger love for that baby and for God for giving him to me.
My four children are the true loves of my life! They have all been my saving grace through the years! Each and every one of them so special to me. They are the reason I live, love and breathe each day. I have learned so much from them as well as teach them so much. Together we live, love laugh and pray. The love for them and God is what gets me through each day! Cancer won’t take that from me. There is HOPE! NEVER GIVE UP HOPE! I go to chemo and my doctors appointments and enjoy making everyone laugh! I love cheering up other cancer patients. I love making people laugh through dark times. After all, there is light if we let out the light from deep down inside shine through. There is a silver lining in everything if you open your mind and heart to it.
After my daughters 7th birthday (Aug 31), and my sons 2nd birthday (Sept 1st), I had my very last Chemo on Sept 2nd. Oct 10th I had my double mastectomy. I chose to wait for reconstructive surgery as I know I still have a ways to go even after surgery to shrink the remaining cancer. Two weeks after, I started feeling better every day. One day at a time! Every day is a blessing, some days are harder than others physically but I listen to my body, I push through when I can and rest when I can’t. I go back for scans on my liver soon to see where we are and our next move. I still am on Chemo but it’s pills at home daily and a once a month hormone shot at the doctor. I am also opting for a full hysterectomy since my cancer is estrogen positive. I don’t want anything feeding the cancer… let’s just take out parts I don’t need… like cleaning house for my body ha ha. This journey is just beginning for me and I’m far from done with cancer but I fight hard! I’m not a quitter and I never look back or ask why? What good what that do? I look forward and move forward! To not get overwhelmed, I take things a day at a time. I love life in a whole new way now. I’ve met many wonderful women going through the same things and we’ve become “pink sisters”. Together we fight, together we pray! No, cancer is not all rainbows and sunshine every day. There have been some rough days. During those times, I allow myself to cry and lean on family and friends to help me through those times. I’m not saying cancer is fun. I wish I could take it away from everyone that has it and throw it away.. myself included, but with a positive mindset, good friends/family and prayer, you can get through it. Life is precious, enjoy it and make the most of it. God bless!!