October is breast cancer awareness month. Beating breast cancer is certainly among the greatest blessings I have had in my life. I have been cancer free now since 2005!. Hard to believe! So, so grateful.
Since I have been blogging, I have found it to be a relaxing and somewhat therapeutic activity. Something to do while the hubs watches baseball 🙂 So, today I am getting a little personal on my DIY blog. I decided to share my cancer journey with you. I hope that whoever reads these posts, whether suffering from cancer or not, can find reassurance and hope in knowing that there is life (and a good one!) after breast cancer. Enjoy!
What is THAT thing in my breast?
I still remember the day I felt the lump. I was in the shower. Not even my own shower. We were in Gilbert, Arizona spending Thanksgiving with my sister and her family. My parents were also visiting from Puerto Rico. It was such a great weekend, until I felt the lump. I wasn’t super faithful at doing self-breast exams but I did do them, whenever I happened to remember. That day, I remembered. I was rinsing my soap and something stopped me. It felt like a hard rock in my right breast. I immediately moved my hand to my left breast and prayed that it would feel the same, but it didn’t. There was definitely something inside my right breast and it was big, about the size of a bouncy ball if I had to compare it to something tangible. I was sick to my stomach. I knew that most people with lumps did not end up with cancer, but I just had a bad feeling. I remembered I had just had a complete physical, which included a breast exam performed by my doctor. She said everything was normal. I was 34 years old at the time, another plus in my favor, I thought. Having worked in healthcare I knew that breast cancer in your 30’s was almost unheard of, so I tried to stay calm. But every time I would think about it I would get this awful sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had to go see the doctor as soon as I got home. So I prayed and waited. I didn’t even tell my husband until we were in the car on our way back home to UT.
Here are a couple of photos from that Thanksgiving weekend in 2004. We mostly hung around the kitchen and ate! Heck it was Thanksgiving! Not the best photo since my eyes are closed 🙂 My brother and my dad are standing next to me. Little did I know that my life would be turned upside down shortly thereafter.
“It’s Probably Nothing”
Upon returning home I saw the doctor who sent me to get a diagnostic mammogram. My first one ever. Ouch. I waited for the results while still in the office. I worked at the same clinic where they did the mammogram (great perk), so the radiologist came in and talked to me and said he couldn’t see anything of concern in the mammogram. I wanted to jump for joy, but I just kept thinking about the hard rock in my breast. The radiologist left the room and I turned to the tech who did the mammogram, who I also knew well. I said to her “I have something REALLY hard, right here!”. I was still wearing my hospital gown and I had her feel what I was feeling. She agreed, there was definitely something there. She went back to the radiologist who then ordered a breast ultrasound. The ultrasound showed the area in question clearly. Apparently young breasts have a lot of tissue that covers up anything that could resemble a lump, which is why mammograms are not done routinely in younger women. The radiologist agreed, the area in the ultrasound looked abnormal, but he still didn’t think it was cancer. He and the surgeon agreed to do a biopsy, just to be certain. The rest is history.
In My Own Words-Journal Entries
I really wanted to edit this and make it more coherent but I wasn’t really coherent at the time, so here it is…
December 12, 2004-
Six days ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. What a way to put things in perspective. I have never prayed so much in my life as I have the last 6 days. I feel guilty about so many things. Have I been a good enough mom, wife? I love Duane so much. He is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. I love him so much. I love my kids so much. They are just perfect. I don’t want to die. I am so scared. I’m having an MRI tomorrow and then I’m having a mastectomy. I don’t even care about looking different physically. I’ll have to have chemo. I’ll lose my hair but I don’t care. I’ll go through anything. I just want to live. I’m not ready to leave my family and I hope Heavenly Father understands my plea. Heavenly Father please let me live. The hardest thing about this is making others sad. This is the hardest thing I have ever gone through and it’s only the beginning.
Thanks for reading everyone. Here’s one last pic of my youngest daughter Mallory and I just a few months before my diagnosis. Every time I look at this photo I wonder if I already had cancer then.