At age 41, I was a wife and super mom. I had a very demanding career as a manager with amajor insurance company. Then, one day, I went for my yearly mammogram and a lump was detected. A needle biopsy showed I had early stage breast cancer. I had no family history of breast cancer. I was initially in shock after being told I had cancer. I remember crying at the doctor’s office. I returned to work that day and I remember sitting in a meeting after I received the diagnosis thinking, “I have cancer and what was being said in the meeting just was not important because – I HAVE CANCER”!
At the time of my diagnosis, my husband and I had reservations for a week’s vacation in Mexico. I was encouraged by my manager at work to go ahead and go on vacation. So we went and enjoyed the trip. But… the fun was lessened, knowing I would return home and shortly have surgery.
I was given a choice of a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. Based on my discussion with the surgeon and being shown the cancer cells went to the end of the biopsy sample, I chose the mastectomy. My right breast was removed; the left breast was reduced in the same operation. I was a DD cup and the surgeon only wanted to reconstruct to a size C cup. The right breast was reconstructed through a TRAM surgery where a flap of skin from my stomach was movedunder my rib cage to create my new right breast. This was a 10-hour plus surgery in which one surgeon removed the breast and a plastic surgeon did the reconstruction. I remembered being happy I came to the surgery with two breasts and left the surgery with two smaller, perky looking breasts, unaffected by gravity. I had a flat stomach due to the tummy tuck that was required as a part of the TRAM surgery. The two positives: first I was alive; second I hadgreat looking new breasts. I feel that psychologically it was better for me that I went into the surgery with two and came back with two.
Several months of chemotherapy followed. My husband was very supportive and took off work on the days of my chemo treatments. We always went to lunch afterwards to make the day special, before returning home to rest. I asked God to heal me because I had a 2-yearold to raise.
Fast forward 16 years. My husband of 36 years is my best friend and supporter. My 2-year-old is now a freshman in college. I took an early retirement two years ago from the very stressful job. I recently have changed my eating patterns and lost 36 pounds. I have come to realize how everything we eat affects us positively or negatively. I thank God every day for life. I stay very busy every day. I assist family and friends regularly with transportation to doctor appointments and I grocery shop for a senior citizen.
Life is good!I encourage all women to get a yearly breast exam and mammogram.