My journey began in 1977.After experiencing pain in the upper left quadrant of my right breast, I went to see my primary physician. He said it was probably nothing to be concerned about, since pain isn’t an indicator of cancer; but he did referred me to a specialist for follow up. A biopsy was taken. I was diagnosed with cancer. I was told that a mastectomy would be required. After receiving a second opinion, I had it done. Ironically, the news of the malignancy was received in October of 1997, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
On January 3, 1998, the surgery was performed and prosthesis inserted. I went through chemotherapy for six months and the rest is history. Although the experience was traumatic, my life did not stop. Upon learning what was ahead of me, I immediately began a second job. After all, I had things to do and refused to allow this disease to impair me.
Working kept my mind busy. There was no time for sadness or depression. So, for the few months preceding my surgery, I commuted daily from New Haven to Bridgeport to work from 8:30 am. to 5:00 pm, five days per week; then from Bridgeport to Wallingford to work from 6:00 pm to midnight, six days per week.
After the surgery, I resumed my exercise classes to regain full range of motion in my right arm. I even vacationed in Cancun for a short time while receiving chemo treatments, being careful to stay out of the sun. I was extremely blessed not to contract lymphodemia or experience hair loss.
I count my blessings every day and give thanks to the Almighty more than anyone can imagine. My everlasting love and thanks also goes to my husband, John Artis Yopp, who’s continually there – positive and persistent for me throughout this ordeal; my sons, Keven and Arthur, who are ever so precious to me and are my life; and the handful of people with whom I shared my journey.
Not everyone can understand and have compassion for a cancer survivor’s plight. Unless you’ve walked in their shoes or have been touched by this disease, it’s difficult to comprehend what one faces daily. I pray that this monster won’t rear its ugly head ever again and an absolute cure is on the horizon that will eliminate the need for others to travel the journey. I try to think positive and always surround myself with positive reinforcement. I do what I want when I want and, as the song says, “I’m living my Life like its Golden”, always realizing that in the end it’s in God’s hands.
Because my husband and I are always on the go and seldom around, I was recently asked: “Are you afraid that you’re going to miss something?” Well, I guess I am!
This is dedicated to Eleanor Kirkland, Linda Kirkland and Paul Dimery, Sr. who fought and awesome battle, but lost. They are my heroes, my inspiration.