Teresa Hicks



The Healthy Me

I was scared the day I discovered blood inside my bra in Feb. 2012. I convinced myself I was going to die of breast cancer. I even dreamt of my funeral and it was the saddest funeral I had ever been to. I pulled myself together and met with many doctors and had many tests. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Triple Neg Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I cried upon learning the diagnosis but then I really found my faith. I knew whatever the outcome God was going to take care of me. I had my left breast removed in March 2012 and discovered how we take raising our arms and putting shirts on for granted. This is so painful after a mastectomy. I began 8 rounds of chemo in April once a week every 3 weeks. This left me so sick and tired that I could barely lift my head off the pillow. I began to look for certain women that had treatment at the same time as mine, this gave me hope that they were still alive. While in the chemo hotel we would tell our stories and what had been going on with us for the last 3 weeks and offer advice to one another. This worked as a support group for me, we were all going through the same thing. I kept attending church and kept taking my Grandson to school and trying to maintain normalcy in my life. I knew my treatment would soon be over and this would be past me. I was declared Cancer free Oct 2012 by a Pet Scan. I was a survivor but felt like I was just floating by in life. I couldn’t go back to my before cancer job because chemo brain had really set in. I have to concentrate on one thing at a time now. Christmas was great that year as the family was together with the cancer behind us. I never want to be that sick, tired or scared ever again. I decide I want to have reconstruction so I go meet with 2 plastic surgeons, should have done this before the mastectomy. I decide on the Diep flap using my fat from my abdomen for a breast. The reconstruction is scheduled for March 2013. It’s been a year and now I’ve come full circle. My new breast looks like a frankenboob, it’s bruised, swollen, has no nipple and is not symmetrical with the right breast. The breast reconstruction recovery takes longer and is so much harder than a mastectomy. I’m healing pretty good then all of a sudden while putting ointment on my incision I feel what appears to be a boil/cyst. I call Dr office to schedule an appt because I don’t need an infection. Dr Bajaj gives me antibiotics, says it’s most likely an infected stitch but wants to rule out anything else so she does a punch biopsy. I’m starting to get used to my new normal as they say. I have routines that don’t involve Drs appts and treatments and tests. My Oncologist calls me May 20, 2013 to ask me to come see her right away. My Cancer has returned. I have a lumpectomy and begin 42 rounds of radiation once daily. My skin becomes so burnt it has blisters on top of blisters and its charred looking. My radiation is over and I get 3 weeks off before beginning chemo. I go away for labor day weekend to celebrate coming through another hurdle. I’m starting to realize how strong I am but my emotions seem weaker. I cry at everything. I am scheduled for 18 chemo treatments this time once a week. I am becoming somebody I don’t recognize. This chemo really knocks me on my butt. I realize I have no energy and can’t walk around the block without being wiped out. I try to exercise but I’m just too tired. I finish up with the chemo in March 2014 and am declared Cancer free by Pet Scan May 2014. I decided to embrace the new me and cry for the old me and to move on with my life. I am now a 2 time breast cancer survivor who has joined a free exercise program at the Y called livestrong for cancer survivors and I walk 3 miles 3 to 4 days a week. I will be walking in this years race for the cure to support and fight for future breast cancer research. I pray for a cure but until then I am going to be the healhiest me I can be. I have a lot of living to do. I still have the frankenboobs with no nipples and the scars to remind me of how far I’ve come and how strong I am. I have decided not to do permanent tattoos of the nipple and aerola because the ink gets in your lymph nodes. I may do temporary nipple tattoos. I am a beautiful woman who did not let cancer define me, it changed me. My life has new priorities and I know what is important and to not sweat the small stuff. My goal right now is to take care of me and next year I intend to do the 3-Day 60 mile walk in Dallas for Race for the Cure. I’m going to do my part to kick cancers butt as they say.