Lindsay Menard is a Breast Cancer survivor, motivational speaker, holistic Psychotherapy, Addiction Specialist/Interventionist and Coaching. She also has a blog called ” The Angel of Death”. Lindsay sings, “Blackbird singing in the dead of night. Take these broken wings and learn to fly—all your life.”
It started with a lump in my breast
I noticed a lump in my breast. It was tender and sore. I went to a general physician and he told me not to worry about it. It is nothing serious. It is a hormonal cyst. It will vanish with my menstruation cycle. Three months later I noticed another lump that was in another area.It was a little bigger and not tender. When I saw the second lump I was worried and decided to get this tested properly. I went to the doctor again. This time she prescribed for memmogram.
Diagnosis was unbelievably complicated
I was 39 years old when I was diagnosed. It was considered stage 3 B. Basically I had a very aggressive tumor that was about 7 mm. The day I was diagnosed it was a very difficult day. That day some fire broke out in california. And a lot of patients from other hospitals were transferred to the hospital when I was taking treatment.
I was in a state of shock. At the time I was diagnosed with cancer and I had a cold that I did not know. I had pneumonia around my lung and it had spread. It was an extremely serious condition. The doctor suggested that I get a lung biopsy. I got the report after fifteen day. It was a matter of relief somehow. As it was not diagnosed as cancer but the pneumonia had spread all over my lungs. But those two weeks were a mixture of shock, despair, panic attacks, and anxiety.
Treatment was painful
I had a very complicated case. Things were not normal.If things do not go as you feel or anticipate, you get anxious. I met the doctor and he explained everything about my cancer and how the treatment will begin. They started with chemotherapy. It helped to reduce the size of the tumor. Mastectomy was followed by it. My chemotherapy continued for five month and then surgery and radiation.
All together, my treatment continued for four years and throughout the journey I had different emotions. Initially I had no anger but as the treatment proceeded it started getting angry. After the chemotherapy and radiation therapy the doctor suggested for radiation therapy so that the cancer does not reoccur in my body.
As per doctor’s recommendation, I got DIEP flap surgery done. It was a major surgery that continued for around ten years. It took time to recover. Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that restores shape to your breast after a mastectomy, surgery that removes your breast to treat or prevent breast cancer. Breast reconstruction with flap surgery involves taking a section of tissue from one area of your body, most often your abdomen and relocating it to create a new breast mound.
Side effect of treatment
I started losing my hair during chemotherapy. And there were many other side effects that were bothering me. So I met with social workers working in the field of cancer. It was a great help. It helped me to figure out where I am heading with my treatment and its consequences. I used to get tired very quickly.
I was finding it difficult to work. It was getting impossible for me as I was working as a psychotherapist and I was working with mental patients. I was not able to handle them because of my own pain and suffering. It was both physical and mental. I continued working during chemotherapy as well.
About DIEP flap surgery
Breast reconstruction with flap surgery is a complex procedure performed by a plastic surgeon. Much of the breast reconstruction using your body’s own tissue can be accomplished at the time of your mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), though sometimes it can be done as a separate procedure later (delayed reconstruction).
Physically and emotionally weak
Going through seven surgeries in four years was so hard. It made me physically as well as emotionally weak. I still have the impact of all the treatment on my body. I feel fatigued.I get tired very soon. Some days are really bad and some days are manageable. I try to take each day as it comes. If I have a bad day I console myself that I will have a good day soon.
My source of motivation
My dog is my little healer. He is my soulmate. And my most important source of inspiration is my son. He is incredible. He was there in every step of my life. He made me strong during the whole process. I have recently joined acting classes. I want to do whatever makes me happy. I want to make big changes in my life.
Cancer tested my faith
Cancer tested my faith, my spirituality, and my belief in God. When I revisit my journey, I think I have gained a lot through it.