I hadn’t visited the doctor for 2-3 years, so I went for a regular checkup. 2 months before, I had noticed some blood discharge from my left nipple. I discussed it with my friends but none of them took it seriously, so I also didn’t bother to visit a doctor. When I went to my doctor and shared this information with him, he scheduled me for a mammogram because it had been a couple years since I had one. When I went for my mammogram they saw a little spot, so the doctor said let me get a closer look. They did an ultrasound and he said yes there’s something but we’re not quite sure what it is and he said normally they would tell you to come back in six months to get it looked at to see if it got any bigger but he said he didn’t want to wait that long. Then they did the ultrasound and did a biopsy and came to find out it was a cancerous tumour.
I was in shock because no one in my family has ever been diagnosed with breast cancer. We do have cancer in our family. I had a brother who passed from kidney cancer, my dad had some brain cancer, but no breast cancer was in my family. Because the spot was so small I wasn’t really prepared for the news. I didn’t know anything about it, the types or stages, I had no clue about anything.
I took just one step at a time. Doctors set me up with a nurse that would call to check on me, to see if I had any questions. They sent me to an oncologist and she mapped out a plan for me. There were a lot of tests that they had to do. They took me through a little bit at a time so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with the process. They gave me different scenarios of what could happen, what the process could look like and we just took it from there.
Tt was stage one and even though this type of cancer spreads fast, but it was so small and they were able to catch it early, so their concern was when I went in to have a partial level lumectomy, they wanted to make sure that it didn’t spread to my lymph nodes. So they removed some of my lymph nodes from under my arm; they removed tissue around the tumor just to test it and to make sure that it hadn’t spread. Because it was a fast spreading cancer that fed off the estrogen. When they went in and did the surgery, they found that it had not spread and they were able to remove the entire tumor and so I didn’t have to go through chemo, but I did have to do radiation. I did 25 rounds of radiation.
They did the surgery where they removed the lymph nodes and on the tissue around the tumor and then I had 25 weeks of radiation which was every day monday through friday the radiation and was about 15 to 20 minutes a day. I ended up not having chemotherapy because they were able to get the entire tumor and it had not spread. Had it spread, then I would have to do chemotherapy as well. I am pretty grateful that I didn’t have to do chemotherapy; radiation was hard but from people that I know that chemotherapy experience is way worse than radiation.
Managing Emotional Wellbeing
During those times I did a lot of prayer. I have close friends that I would talk to whenever I was feeling stressed or overwhelmed, so I was able to release a lot of things that I was feeling or thinking. My husband was very supportive throughout my treatment. He really picked up the slack because even though I worked, I didn’t work as many hours.
My mother kept checking on me all the time. I had a best friend who was my sounding board along with my church members. A lot of the times they brought over meals for us because I just wasn’t able to cook. They called; they came by to visit; so I had a very very strong support system. it was difficult for me to accept that I needed other people to be there for me though.
I absolutely loved my doctors, who were always very supportive. I appreciate the fact that they were so proactive that instead of saying let’s wait six months they sent me to get rechecked because it could have spread by then the tumor could have grown. I really appreciate that my oncologist gave me all the information and helped me to make the right decision for myself.
Stay positive. Sometimes you will have those days where it may be hard to be positive, but try to find something, a little ray of sunshine that can get your mind in a good place and a good perspective. Find something that puts a smile on your face whether it’s a movie or music or being in the presence of a particular person. Know that it’s okay to not be okay, you don’t have to be strong, you don’t have to put on a brave face. If you’re not feeling good, if you’re having a bad day, if you’re feeling emotional, let it live through. Let it come up and come out because that’s all part of your healing.