Nothing can prepare you for the punch in the gut when you hear those three words “You have cancer” yet those are the words I heard on January 13th. More specifically, “You have breast cancer”. Hardest words I’ve ever heard. This is a battle I never expected to face and I’m still absorbing all the details.
I have two tumors, one in each breast, each a different kind and size. The reason for going public is because I want to make sure other women are focused on the right things. I’ve been getting mammograms since I was 40 years old. My father’s mother passed away from breast cancer when she was 53 years old (I was a baby). It was a time when they didn’t know much about cancer nor did they have any actual life saving treatments. Because it ran in my family I’ve always been cognizant of the fact that I could get it too. I sometimes wondered what I would do or if I’d ever voluntarily get tested for the BRCA gene. I’m currently being tested as we speak.
Every year I would get my routine mammogram. In California it would automatically be followed up with an ultrasound due to the dense breast tissue. Once I got to Florida they never did any follow ups. But I always assumed everything was okay until last October when I received a vague report from radiology stating that I’d need a follow up due to abnormalities. That was all it said. I called to ask for more details but they refused to tell me anything. Why? It’s MY health, after all. I saw my doctor a few days later. He was able to provide more detail in that the abnormal spot was on my right breast.
At this time, I was in prep mode to finally move to Nashville and get out of hell (those who know me know that I never adjusted to FL) and since I was having a difficult time with the radiology place I decided to wait until I got to Tennessee to do my follow ups.
Once I got to Nashville, it went much faster and all the medical experts were on top of everything from getting my records resent from FL (they sent me discs of my mammo images but like everything else they screwed up, the discs were blank).
I had a diagnostic mammogram on my right breast which determined a small calcification was there. A follow up ultrasound didn’t show anything. My surgeon did a biopsy which came back as “invasive carcinoma” or breast cancer. She sent me for an immediate MRI which ended up showing a suspicious area on the left breast. After another biopsy, this one was also breast cancer but of a different kind.
I’m going into such great detail because I want women to understand that a mammogram isn’t a one size fits all determination for breast cancer. The tumor in my left breast is 10mm. God only knows how long it’s been there & went undetected by mammograms and ultrasounds. If my doctor had never sent me for a follow up MRI, I wouldn’t know I have another type of cancer in my other breast. How scary is that?
I’ve had a ton of support from family & friends (even some very new special friends) and I’m so grateful for the outpouring of love. I’m awaiting a surgery date for sometime in February where I’ve made the very conscious decision to undergo a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. This is not a decision I take lightly or that I made quickly. It’s something I’ve thought about for years & knew I’d make if the time arose. That time is now.
I appreciate you all keeping me in your prayers during the single most challenging fight of my life (and I thought depression was my biggest battle). I don’t know why God has given me this challenge but I am and always have been a fighter so I’ll fight it all the way. Cancer will never beat me.