Michelle Crook

Michelle Crook Image

…Cont.

in other states, but Bridgeport, Connecticut is my home.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38.

I have to admit, I did feel a small hard lump in my right breast but ignored it. I figured it was “just” another lump or bump that came with age. But the lump never went away. So, I decided to make an appointment to see my gynecologist.

I arrived in good spirits and chatty. I led the conversation to include everything but my lump. So much so, that my doctor said, “I think we should discuss this lump.” I responded in a very cavalier way, “sure.” After the examination, she determined that a biopsy was in order. I agreed under the condition that she would spare me the dramatic moment of bringing me back into the office and just tell me the results over the phone. Although reluctant, she consented.

Unfortunately, the diagnosis came back positive. I also had 13 lymph nodes involved, which meant I had an aggressive Stage 2 breast cancer. Stage 2 because I waited!!

Because of my age and other factors considered, my breast surgeon recommended a lumpectomy with chemotherapy and radiation. This meant a serious toxic cocktail that resulted in complete hair loss and devastating side effects.

I must say that I wasn’t scared, and never once did I think I wasn’t going to survive. Please, don’t get me wrong, it was indeed a battle, which I have continued through mind, body and spiritual wellness. 

Fortunately, by the grace of God, my family, friends, my treatment team and The Witness Project of Connecticut led by Marilyn Moore, I am here to tell my story 20 years later.

The Witness Project is a breast and cervical cancer organization that provides support for women through mammograms, community support and connecting women to housing and financial services.

Marilyn Moore immediately arranged a support group for me. Women shared their stories of survival, which gave me immediate hope and put me at ease. My oncology treatment team and breast surgeon, Dr. Leslie Wagenberg (now retired) and my amazing oncologist, Dr. Glen Reznikoff, who continues to see me as my primary care physician, went above and beyond. To God Be the Glory!

My advice to anyone:

Receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer does not necessarily mean a death sentence. Please do not self-diagnose. Early detection is the key to survival! It is also important to seek out support groups such as Sisters’ Journey, especially in the beginning. Support groups really make a difference in how you move forward. They offer valuable information that can help in your decision-making process. Also, if you have lymph nodes involved, please ask about being fitted immediately with a sleeve. This can help prevent the onset of lymphedema or at best minimize the severity.