Vanessa Ray

Know Your History!My name is Vanessa Smith Ray and I am a Survivor. My second birthday is June 2, 2010, the day I wascleared of breast cancer!

In October, I went for my regular mammogram; I knew that this was my yearly examination. However, Ireceived a second notice in the mail to make an appointment to have a repeat mammogram. Well, I havealways been cyst prone, so I was not worried. The radiologist spoke to me and told me that I shouldcome back in six months. She did not see anything. I was really concerned. I thought about it for severaldays. I decided to ask for a surgeon to obtain a second opinion. I called my sister, Robin, and asked if sheknew a good surgeon. She referred me to Dr. Sitya at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Severaldays later, after I made my appointment to see Dr. Sitya, I received a telephone call from my ob/gynoffice and the secretary asked if I wanted to see a surgeon for a second review. I explained that I hadmade my appointment.

My appointment was in December 2009. When I saw Dr. Sitya, he asked me about my family history ofcancer. Did anyone in my family have breast cancer? No breast cancer, but my mother had colon cancerand my grandmother had either uterine or ovarian cancer. I could not remember which. Based on myhistory, he scheduled me for a biopsy. I was numb, because I could not imagine having breast cancer.My breast biopsy was scheduled for January 5, 2010. I had the biopsy and my doctor told me there was nolump, but that we would have to wait for the pathologist’s report. The nurses told me to call back onFriday, January 8, 2010. I said okay! I would call before I left to go to New York for the weekend. I calledand they said Dr. Sitya wants to speak to me. I left my cell telephone number, but we kept missing eachother. On Monday, January 11 at 7:00 pm Dr. Sitya finally reached me and told me that I had breast cancer.I could not believe that I had breast cancer, as I did my monthly examinations faithfully and had not feltanything. I had carcinoma in situ on the right side. Only because I was at work, did I not scream, holler, orcry. I was numb. Very Numb!!! My sorority sister was standing by me when I found out. When I finallyreached my home that night, I called my sisters, brothers, family members and my sorority sisters. Iwanted everyone to know, because I believe in prayer. Through prayer, healing is possible. Dr. Sitya saidthat I would live a long life and I believe him.

I had numerous appointments and everyone in my family supported me. I decided to wait until March to have my surgery. I was to have the cells removed and radiation.  I was not going to have reconstruction, because I did not need it. But after two surgeries, I was asked if I would have a mastectomy. I agreed, because my cells were coming up not cleared. June 2, 2010, I had my mastectomy. I was cleared. Because I was cleared, I did not have to have chemo or radiation. Dr. Kumar tried reconstruction, but it failed. After having three surgeries, I decided to wait until I healed and I had time to think about it. My sorority sister had waited 10 years before she had her reconstruction.

I am so blessed because my breast cancer was found at stage zero. I tell everyone that they should know their family health history!


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