I’d arrived home from a run with husband and felt a mass on my right breast as I was getting out of the shower. I’d never noticed it before and thought that I should contact my OBGYN. I was 37 years old at the time with an active 2 year old daughter named Frances. I had my doubts that it was anything serious, but I called my doctor the next day. When my OBGYN felt the lump she immediately sent me for a mammogram which was followed by an ultrasound and then a biopsy. That same day I was told that I had breast cancer, and that it had already spread to my lymph nodes. I was terrified.
The next few weeks were a flurry of appointments. I met with a wonderful oncologist who explained to me that my HER2+ status meant that I would need to begin a chemotherapy regimen immediately, and then I would need a mastectomy followed by radiation. I opted for a bi-lateral mastectomy, and my surgeon was very supportive of my decision. I also opted for reconstruction and found a compassionate, talented plastic surgeon who really listened to me. After my reconstruction was complete I began 28 rounds of radiation. Again, I’d found a radiation oncologist who was so kind and knowledgeable. I had an immense amount of trust in my team of doctors, and for that I will always be grateful.
My family and friends rallied around me. I’d never felt so loved and supported in my life and I really relied on people in ways that I never thought I would. I’ve saved every card and letter that I received. These acts of kindness really boosted my spirits, especially on days where I felt hopeless and scared.
I was referred to the Breast Cancer Coalition by my care team at Pluta Cancer Center. I’m so grateful that I called to schedule my Breast Cancer 101 session. This was a turning point for me. I felt heard, respected and loved as soon as I walked through their doors. I stayed after my session for a Brown Bag Lunch. It was so comforting to be surrounded by others who understood what I was going through. For the first time I felt like I was a survivor, rather than a very sick person. I participated in several programs during my treatment; Yoga, Meditation and Voices & Vision. I am now proud to be a PALS Mentor, where I can connect with the newly diagnosed and be a sounding board and a voice of hope. Being sick changed the way I live my life. I’ve had a complete shift in my career and now work for an organization that supports individuals going through cancer treatment.
I am very fortunate to be healthy today and I don’t take this for granted. Nothing is promised and every act of kindness has a ripple effect. I hope I can be the light for others who face life’s challenges.