I was first diagnosed with a noninvasive form of breast cancer in my left breast at age 27. At the time it caused a bit of nervousness, but treatment was swift and easy. There was no need for chemotherapy, just radiation; and I was given Tamoxifen for 5 years. I was told if the cancer didn’t return after 5 years that would be a very good chance it never would.
Fast forward 15 years later to 2013. It was February. I was in the shower doing my usual self-exam. I remember feeling something a bit odd, like a small marble. When I got out of the shower I lay flat down on my back to get a better feel, I marked the spot with a sharpie and called my doctor. I stopped into my doctor’s office the next afternoon and she felt the same thing I did. She immediately scheduled a mammogram and an ultrasound if needed.
Two days later I was getting the mammogram, then the ultrasound. I remember the doctor being short, and a bit rude, like I was wasting her time. She told me that all I was feeling was normal breast tissue and when you’ve had breast cancer before it can make you overly sensitive to every little thing you feel. Ok, that was February with me feeling a marble. Fast forward to August. I’m in bed and roll over on my right side and I feel something kind of tugging. I begin to inspect what I feel and I know this is not anything normal. What I feel now is bigger, a lot bigger. I mark the spot, and I go to my doctor’s office the next morning, she looks concerned and once again schedules the test.
While waiting for the results, I’m trying to be calm, I’m praying, but I’m worried. Deep down I already knew, and being a very private person who never wants to worry anyone, I was suffering alone.
I would later find out that it was Stage III C IDC. A very invasive ductal carcinoma with 14 lymph nodes affected. I was numb. I felt like I was walking around in a fog. I was hearing the plan of treatment, but it was not making a bit of sense to me. All I did know is that I had to get myself together fast if I wanted to live.
I was started on chemo oral to get the cancer cells under control and to shrink the tumor. Surgery was scheduled for early 2014. Since I had a previous cancer in the left breast, it was decided that I would have a double mastectomy and several rounds of intravenous chemotherapy afterwards.
Once I agreed with the treatment plan it was nonstop appointments, tests, procedures and trips to the pharmacy.
Fast forward to today, October 2015. I am now in full remission. The double mastectomy is a surgery I would not wish on my very worst enemy. I had 6 rounds of chemotherapy and a total reconstruction. I’m happy to report that these new breasts look like I had a million dollar Hollywood breast job. They are true works of art, although they don’t feel like they are actually mine or part of my body. I lost all of my body hair, and yes, it was traumatic. It has all grown back, actually a nicer texture than before. My immune system crashed several times and still is not fully replenished. Even after the cancer is gone I have good days and bad days. The best advice I can give anyone facing this is: You must stay positive no matter what. The treatment plan the doctors lay out is not God’s plan, it will change. Don’t look too far ahead, live in the moment. Go easy on the people in your life. This is not for the weak. Who starts out with you might not finish with you. Faith in God, lots of prayer and a positive attitude will get you through this.
Written by Angel J.