I was diagnosed on August 11, 2011, which also happened to be my 30th wedding anniversary. I am currently finished with active treatment! I was 48 years old at the time and just had my mammogram and as I have done every year for the past 11 years followed by an ultrasound (I had very dense fibrocystic breast along with numerous sizable cyst). That year was different, while the mammogram didn’t show anything, the ultrasound did. The size started out as .5mm mass, the Breast Specialist didn’t like the way it looked and decided to do a core biopsy, it was confirmed, on my 30th wedding anniversary, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
3 weeks later I had a PET scan, and 3D MRI, the size increased to 1.7 cm in a short amount of time. So, then on to the appointments with the Medical Oncologist, as well as with the breast specialist. As she went over all treatment options and reconstruction options, I was able to meet my new team of doctors.
After meeting with the new set of doctors, we all decided I should go on that cruise I had booked prior to finding out I had Breast Cancer, everyone was saying “get it off your mind for a while“. 2 days after returning from the cruise I had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate skin/nipple sparing DIEP/APEX reconstruction, received the pathology report, the size went to 2.1 cm with a trace in 1 node. Six weeks after the first surgery I had 4 rounds of chemo, then six weeks after last chemo treatment, I had my Stage 2 surgery for reconstruction.
I worked the entire time, through all surgeries, thru chemo and must say my boss was great, he allowed me to work from home on the days I just couldn’t make it into the office. That was truly a blessing. Also, I have to say, my husband, sister, and brother-in-law were definitely my rocks of support during this whole time and still are to this very day.
I have also tried to maintain a sense of humor during the whole process and now my new slogans are “don’t sweat the small stuff“, “it is what it is“, and “don’t judge people on how they look on the outside, you have no idea what they may be dealing with on the inside”. I also try not to be superwoman anymore and take it easier.
But one of the hardest parts about going through this process was not realizing just how different my new normal would be after treatment was over. I definitely had to make some lifestyle changes, so now I take more time for me and try not to be as OCD as I once was.
It’s been a little over 6.5 years on this journey, I still go every 6 months for blood work and to see the oncologist, who reminds me “this is a marathon, not a sprint”. I’m not where I was before the diagnoses, but every day I’m getting better. Will I ever be the same, who knows? The main thing is I’m still here and right now, and in remission.
It may not always be easy but if I could encourage other women during their journey, I would tell them to just breathe, while treatment is hard it’s doable. Bring someone with you at all times, they’re giving you so much information at one time, it can be hard to remember everything. And most importantly take time for yourself!