Even though Breast Cancer Awareness Month was in October, I feel compelled to share a story with you that is enlightening and encouraging to all cancer fighters and survivors who still fight to stay healthy and happy. This story is straight from a personal journal by my aunt Kathy who was diagnosed almost a year after she lost her oldest sister (my mom) to cancer.
In May'09, I had my mammogram done and it was normal. A month later I'm lying in bed and my beloved dog Conrad, jumps on my chest and it hurt. I clutched my chest and felt a lump. I went to see my doctor. I saw his assistant first, then she went and got him. I knew something was wrong by the way they looked at one another when he examined me.
He scheduled a second mammogram. Again, those results showed nothing. I told him, "No, there is something wrong." The lump hurt when touched. He said that he could get me in to see a breast specialist. The breast specialist examined me and said the it was a cyst. I said that I wanted it removed. He scheduled a biopsy. On July 7th 2009, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. My first thought was "F- - k." I left the doctor's office in tears. I called my Mom whom I had not told about the lump, then I called my husband. I spent the next days crying in bed. When my Mom, husband and I went to see the doctor he recommended mastectomy and radiation. I told him that I wanted to go to M.D. Anderson. I came home and got on the computer and did a self referral on M.D. Anderson's website. It took two weeks to get in. My Mom and husband came with me to my first appointment. We were really impressed with the staff and doctor at M.D. Anderson. I felt like I was in the best place that I could possibly be. After a pet scan, MRI, mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy and blood work the doctor recommended 6 months of chemo, surgery and radiation. This time last year I had, had my 9th chemo. This is what I wrote in my journal:
"My side effects are hair thinning, hot flashes, skin rash over 50% of my body, swollen fingers, not being able to sleep throughout the night, nose bleeds and fatigue.
I was really emotional this week. I would cry at the drop of a dime.
But I found out why on Thursday. I haven't had a cycle since I started chemo. When I woke up Thursday morning my right ovary was hurting. And the light bulb went off in my head. My hormones are out of whack. I was emotional like when I would have my cycle. I'm glad that I figured that out before I looked at myself in the mirror. Because when I looked at myself in the mirror I started laughing because I looked like an orangutan. Had this happened on Wednesday, I would've been crying. But today, I could laugh.
On Wednesday, Oct. 14th I had blood drawn.
On Thursday, Oct. 15th my chemo appointment was scheduled for 4:00pm. I was not tardy for my party. I met with the 2 clinical trial research nurses. I was finally called back at 6:45. The process went well. I was so tired. I did not eat as much ice cubes as I normally do because I slept. Needless to say my throat was sore. I was given 4mg of steroids, 30mg of RAD and the bag of Taxol. I was done at 9:30pm. Afterwards, I went to Papas and got a baked potato for dinner. I came home and watched The Real Housewives of ATL.
Today, October 23rd, 2010 I've had my 6 months check up and everything is good. I am cancer free. Thanks to God and all of my family and friends for all of their love, prayers and support. I'm back running and I'm up to 6 miles. I'm feeling good, and my hair is growing back. The most important advice that I can offer is to do yourself examinations, know your
body and never let a suspicious area or lump go unresolved. Insist on tests.