Barbara Gray

In February (or maybe even March 2019), I noticed a small dimple in my left breast. I didn’t pay much attention to it because sometimes we get dimples in
certain spots. Time passed and in July 2019 my youngest son who is special needs needed emergency surgery. He had to have hardware
removed from his spine and was in the hospital for almost a month. I kept saying that I had to get my mammogram done but I was so consumed with him I
never did it. I would have pain in my breast from time to time and I just ignored it. At one point I said to my sister that my left breast looked different. She said we all have one slightly bigger than the other, so I just left it alone.

In October 2019 there was a breast cancer walk in my neighborhood. I was walking my dog and stopped by a neighbor’s house. She gave me a breast cancer
flyer/card that they were handing out at the walk. I took the card home, but never looked at it. I just put the card down and went about my day.

That Christmas my children and I went to Barbados by way of The Make a Wish Foundation. On New
Year’s Eve, while cleaning my room, I found the breast cancer flyer. As I’m reading it, I noticed that it says one of the signs of breast cancer is dimpling. I
run into my bathroom and look at the dimple which by this time was a little bigger. I started to panic. I called my best friend and told her what was going on.
She said you’re fine, don’t worry. And that’s what I did. I left it alone for four months.

On April 6, my 45th birthday, I asked my son’s nurse to look at the dimple. She asked me how long it had been there. I said I wasn’t sure. She then examined
me and told me to call my doctor. I called the next day but had to leave a message. They called me back and gave me a number for a radiology center, but
because of COVID-19 they weren’t doing any mammograms. By the time I hung up, Yale’s Breast Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut had called and left
me a voicemail along with a text telling me to come in on April 9 for a mammogram. When I arrived, I had expected to have my picture taken and go home. I was there for over two hours! They took three sets of pictures and they also did an ultrasound, which was new for me. As the tech was doing the ultrasound, she’s measuring and counting. I’m like “ok, this is new.” I was trying to see the screen and what they’re talking about. The doctor came in and said that I needed to
come back for a biopsy, which I did on April 14. I asked the doctor if they can tell if it’s cancer when they pull the sample out. She said if the sample is solid, 90% of the time it’s cancerous. Once they were done, I asked if mine was solid and she said it was. They had already made an appointment for me to meet with the surgeon. I said, “Well if you get my results back before Monday, call me.” On Friday. April 17, 2020, around 10:30 am – 11 days after my 45th birthday – the results came back positive for breast cancer. I told my family and close friends.

When I met with the surgeon, she explained what the
next steps would be. On May 7 I had a mastectomy of my left breast. Then, on May 22, I had my port put in; but I also lost my mom that day. It’s been difficult and I still haven’t been able to grieve. I started chemo the next week. The first round was difficult, as I experienced severe bone pain. After the second round,
I had neuropathy in both my hands and feet. My doctor didn’t give me the last treatment because he didn’t want me to have permanent damage. I also had five
weeks of radiation. After meeting with my oncologist, I found out I was Stage 3, borderline Stage 4. I also had 21 lymph nodes removed and 19 of them were

After the chemotherapy and radiation were completed, I started hormonal treatments. Because of side effects, I changed types several times. I am now taking a pill
daily and an infusion once a month for five years. During my infusion in December 2021, I asked about the size of my tumor and was told that it was the size of
a mango. The crazy thing is that I took a picture of my breast a few days before my surgery and it was shaped like a mango. When they were looking at the
ultrasound, they thought it was two separate tumors, but it was just one big one. It’s now three years later and I still deal with neuropathy and bone pain. I would have never thought that this would be the road that I would have to take, but I thank God for giving me the strength each day. We acknowledge Breast Cancer
Awareness in October, but for me it’s 365 days every year for the rest of my life. I encourage others wherever I go to make sure they stay on top of their mammograms. Saving the boobies can also save your life.


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