Symptoms & Diagnosis
My name is Rach DiMare. I am a breast cancer survivor. During my honeymoon as a newlywed, I put on my swimsuit and noticed a lump on my breast. After further tests, the doctors found that I had four tumors – invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer. Two months before my 28th birthday, the diagnosis came as a shock but I took courage in the fact that it was early enough to beat. Most people feel mild discomfort, heaviness, and swelling in the breast. They may notice dimpling or puckering of the skin on the breast. In advanced stages, there might be a hard lump under the skin that grows over time and may become firm to touch.
So, I am a millennial who faced breast cancer at a young age. You can diagnose breast cancer by checking for any abnormal lumps or changes in the shape of your breast. It’s also important to examine your breasts monthly and inform yourself about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. A lump on your breast is usually the sign of cancer, but there are other possible reasons for it. This can be a benign tumor or fibrocystic change. Your doctor will examine you, and perform tests such as mammography and ultrasound to diagnose it!
I am also passionate about educating my generation and others about the importance of early detection and how to pay attention to your body. My goal is for you to be empowered by this personal experience to take charge of your own health!
Side Effects & Challenges
I know what it’s like to be diagnosed with breast cancer, and even more so if you have to undergo chemo or a bilateral mastectomy. First on the list of challenges you might face after reconstruction surgery is your new nipple sensation, which in some cases, may not be normal. In some women, the tissue will be very sensitive while others will experience no feeling at all.
It sounds like I had a really hard time. Constipation isn’t unusual after surgery, and it can take a while to get used to them. I know it seems strange, but it’s actually supposed to happen that way when you are in pain and dealing with the side effects of medications and anesthesia. After I got my reconstruction, my body still felt foreign and not right. Also, it took many months to recover. Having a mastectomy can be very challenging, both physically and emotionally. Being able to get back into your life with good feelings as soon as possible is more important than how you look. You deserve it!
Support System & Caregivers
Whether it’s a family member or a close friend, support is what every cancer patient needs. You may be hurting, but you can always find someone who will help carry your burden. The challenges and my sufferings really put me in a deep depression. From treatments to surgery sessions, I had wonderful support from my husband and friends. It really counted a lot and boosted the best in me so I could survive and have the best recovery in the best possible manner. It was an amazing experience, and without my family, I would have been what I am today. It’s their support that matters!
Life, without care and worries, just living on the flow. However, when you are diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and have no option but to go through with it, everything gets changed. A number of questions arise in your mind; where do I begin? What will happen next? How can I manage this illness? These are all very important questions that need to be answered constantly throughout the treatment process. When it comes to cancer recovery, whether you are the person who has been diagnosed or a loved one helping them through it, there is no standard path to healing. Because of this, it’s important to talk about your needs and have a support system in place before treatment begins.
Post Cancer & Future Goals
As far as the future goals after cancer are concerned, I just want to go with the flow. I believe in doing things when I feel 100 per cent ready for them because life is too short to settle with things that don’t make you happy. After all, I am blessed with a life and I am thinking of doing something amazing with it to live each moment with my family and friends.
I just want to say thank you God, for giving me this time on time and opportunity to live each moment. Now, I just have to take care of myself in a way that allows me to stay healthy and happy forever.
Most people think that once they are free from cancer, they will go back to their normal life as before. True! That’s what I have done after cancer. But that’s not all. After the cancer treatment is completed, one should think about his future goals because if you don’t have future goals in life then your life is going to be worth nothing. So, make sure that you set some goals for yourself and always try to attain them!
Some Lessons That I Learned
They say life is all about how you deal with the challenges, and to lead a healthy life, we need support from our family, friends, and even health professionals. A support system can help you cope up with your situation as well as you recover as quickly as possible. You might want to ask for help from friends and family members – after all, they are usually the first ones that pop up in your mind during difficult times. Specially for cancer patients whether it be the aftermath of the disease or even just with the treatment itself, one has to rely heavily on their loved ones to give them strength through prayers and guidance.
To add – Some of the biggest lessons I learned from battling cancer is to surround yourself with people who can bring out the best in you and to make every day an adventure. Going through treatments and operations helps you appreciate your family, friends, and life a lot more than you do before going through this ordeal. Lastly, educate yourself about cancer and all its stages so that you can be your own best advocate. I don’t think that the cancer treatments alone can be a teacher, but they surely help to make you think about what is important in life. I am more positive about everything now and most importantly; I have learned to live in the moment – enjoy every single moment of it! Every adventure just adds to your longevity.
When it comes to my health, I take responsibility for myself. I have done everything I can to understand my illness and the treatments available to me, so I can make an informed decision about my body. I am also very grateful for the way that each test result and every appointment has been handled. The doctors were responsive, answering practically instantly, or even calling from personal cell phones if I want to talk. They took their time explaining things clearly so I know exactly what is going on and what will happen. This includes everyone at the front desk and in their offices who work hard and help coordinate all the appointments that come up so there aren’t delays getting back into the testing/treatment cycles. It’s my greatest support through all the stages of my cancer that helped me survive the disease and live longer. Without them, I would have been nowhere.
My parting message is to take care of you. You are the frontline and your body can tell you a lot about how you are doing. If you have symptoms, talk to a doctor, get tested and don’t let them go away. Work with your healthcare team and pharmacist, who knows what’s best for you and how to help reduce side effects is possible.