“Blessed beyond my comprehension!”
My name is Rachael Leftridge and I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at the age of 47. Triple “negative,” surely that couldn’t be bad. The word “negative” is a good thing, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, my theory was wrong. To my surprise, triple negative breast cancer is an aggressive form of breast cancer in which there is no targeted or standard treatment. My only options were a combination of surgery, aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Telling my children, my dad and my brothers about my breast cancer was the second hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. The first hardest thing I had to do was to bury my mother. She too had breast cancer. For years it had been in the back of my mind that I would not be able to escape this ugly disease – that someday I would be diagnosed with breast cancer. When my diagnosis was confirmed I was in total disbelief and became numb. However, after my pity party and quite a few tears, I went into survival mode. My faith grew bigger than my fear.
The night before my surgery, the beginning of my journey, I announced it on social media. I shared not for sympathy but for prayers of strength for my family, Team Rachael, and the surgeons; and also to encourage anyone else experiencing a life-changing situation.
My sister-girlfriend for over 40 years came from Maryland the day of my surgery. She spent every night with me at the hospital and accompanied me home. I can remember her asking me (which I think was in a sarcastic way), “Is there anything I can do for you?” It’s hard to allow someone to care for you when you are used to being the caregiver, and also used to being the rock.
My sisters near and far showed up and showed out in their own special way; I love them very much for all the love, support, and concern shown for my children and me. I had an amazingly kind and professional photographer who helped me to document my journey. The pictures he took not only captured faces but also captured the moment. I may have lost my hair and a little weight but I never loss my faith or my smile.
In so many ways my journey has been a blessing. My relationship with God has grown; I found me, I found peace and I’m living. I have a second chance at life and I’m making everyday count.
I didn’t escape breast cancer but I am a survivor!