The 1991-92 school year was my 23rd year working for the New Haven, Connecticut school system. During that year, I made a decision to retire.
In January, I filled out all the necessary papers. It also was time for my physical exam and a mammogram. Everything was normal and I was the happiest woman in the world. The joy didn’t last long. During the April vacation, I visited my daughter in Cleveland. I took my 9-year-old grandson with me. We visited Cincinnati for a couple of days and enjoyed our stay in a hotel. While we were having fun in the swimming pool, my grandson spotted a small lump above my right breast. I touched it and it felt like a small lump of fatty tissue. That, by the way, runs in my mother’s family.
When we returned I scheduled a doctor’s visit. A biopsy was done and the findings showed an aggressive cancer. A second opinion resulted in the same conclusion. Surgery was needed, and it was needed right away. But I waited until the end of June. There was much to be done for my students at the end of the year and I couldn’t abandon them.
All along, I felt the Lord would guide the surgeon’s hands during the surgery. As I hoped and prayed – everything went well. My daughter, Johanna, is a nurse and she dropped by every day to change my bandages. By September, the incision was healed and the chemotherapy treatment was scheduled to begin. Before starting the chemotherapy, I went to the CHCP Mental Health Clinic for their services. I was seen by a social worker that had undergone a lumpectomy. She recommended massage therapy that was very instrumental in her recovery. Having followed her advice, the massage and counseling helped me tremendously.
The Polly T. McCabe Center for Young Mothers needed a part time Guidance Counselor and I was hired. I’ll always be grateful for the understanding, care, and empathy of the staff.
It has been ten years since I started this long journey. The mammography is done on a yearly basis. Time is the best healer and takes care of the big change in our bodies that we confront every day. I am alive, enjoying my family and hoping the cure will come soon.