Joan Lumpkin Wheeler

I am now a resident of Portsmouth, VA, but formerly lived in New Haven, CT. I am the mother of two daughters and I have four grandchildren.

During a self breast examination, I found a lump. But, I didn’t think anything of it because in the past, I was told that I had fibroids. It was time for my annual mammogram and it revealed something on the X-ray. My GYN doctor was notified and he referred me to a surgeon. After several needle aspiration biopsies, a malignant tumor was found and I had a right mastectomy scheduled.

First, you cry. Then, you wonder, “why me?” But, the type of person I am, I turned my negative feelings into positive thinking and this sustained me. This may sound funny, but, if you have a severe toothache that causes inflammation and gum disease, one would consult a dentist and have a tooth extraction. That is how I had to think in order to deal with such a significant loss.

After the surgery, following some complications, I was released 18 days later to go home. Having my immediate family members, very special girl friends, prayers, and by the Grace of God on my side, I was able to convalesce with a lift to my spirit. All of the above made it possible to endure nine months of chemotherapy.

Following the surgery, the surgeon was confident that all look fine. I continued my yearly mammograms and all was well.

Five years later, in 1999, during an annual mammogram, cancer was detected again! Performing a self breast examination would not have detected the deep malignancy. Surgery was scheduled for yet another mastectomy. I give thanks to God because I spent only three days in the hospital. I was prepared for the second time around. Thank God.

Please maintain yearly mammograms. Self breast exams are important also, but, sometimes they are not enough.

April – “spring time” The beginning of new life for everything on Earth. As you can see by the photo, I am an avid egg collector. The egg signifies the beginning of life and being a breast cancer survivor, I am embarking on my new life. God bless!



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