Veronica Spencer-Hughes


my alarm clock went off at 6:30 a.m. I reach over, groan, hit the snooze button, and roll back over pulling the covers up tight over my head, not willing to give up that warm, snuggly feeling of a good deep sleep.
My 10-minute grace period comes very quickly. Again, I swear that I’m going to quit my day job and go live on a farm with goats and chickens along with a farm dog named Blue. As I stretch and the morning light begins to trickle in through the curtains, my right hand
ever so lightly brushes the outer right quadrant of my right breast. I know that’s where I felt the lump hiding because that’s what it said on my medical documents. I think, “Did I feel something?” I feel again, but I must have changed my initial position because I don’t
feel anything now. So, I turn back on my left side and feel again… there! Right there, what is that? I feel a lump about the size of the end of my thumb. I try to recall if I had bumped into something. No, I don’t think so.

I get up and proceed with my morning routine of showering and getting dressed. Again, I feel to see if just maybe I had made a mistake and it was nothing there. There’s no denying it; I feel something. My dear husband who is always in a rush in the morning hurries in to take his turn to jump in the shower. I slow him down just long enough to ask him to “feel this.” I take his finger in my hand and guide him to the lump. His face gets serious, which makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end because what he says next is probably the reason I can tell you this story. He says, “You need to see the doctor today.  Call the school and let them know you will be late.”

My practitioner referred me immediately to have a biopsy. Fast forward to the results. About a week later it comes back positive. Then as most of us who have had the positive diagnosis understand, there is the uncontrolled out-of-body experience you can have when you get such unexpected shocking news: You have breast cancer! At the age of 47, I was diagnosed with Stage 2A Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. My treatment as you may suspect wasn’t easy. In fact, it was grueling. Five months of chemotherapy, a double bi-lateral partial mastectomy with a lumpectomy, followed by radiation.

Almost one year to the day of my diagnosis and with the help and support of my husband, my mother, and my then 8-year-old son and countless friends and family, I survived.

It has been six years since I have told my story or even thought about it in such detail. There are now days and even weeks that I don’t think about it as much. Just small reminders like the medication that I still take every day. I have now been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, perhaps from all the steroids I took during chemo. I still have joint pain. I even suffered a broken leg last fall playing with my son while riding dirt bikes. I was told my bones are probably becoming fragile from the medicine I am on. But I have survived.

I still have many things I want to do on my bucket list of life. My husband thinks I just sit around and come up with these crazy things to do. He’s probably right. I could dial it back a bit. The thing is, once you get on the other side of the rainbow after being told you have CANCER, all you can think of is making sure that you live every day of the rest of your life like it’s your last.



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