My dear Aunt Constance was dying of cancer. I didn’t have time to give much thought to this little irritating ‘thing’ under my right breast. Surely it was only an irritation from the under wire of my bras. I was too consumed with losing my wonderful Aunt to be so bothered; and, certainly it could not be cancer. Beautiful Aunt Constance passed. I still paid no attention until 5 months later. It was becoming more than an under wire irritation.
In November 1997, the mammogram showed the Radiologist that it was carcinoma. The pathology report from the biopsy said no. When I went for my follow-up mammogram in April 1998, I told the doctor that I had to get rid of this because it was beginning to be painful. Though it was just a cyst that had to be removed. He scheduled a surgical biopsy. Who knew what news that sunny Tuesday in April 1998 would bring?
I began, early, making numerous calls to my surgeon on that fateful morning–he was with a patient each time I called. Late afternoon the phone rang and his “Hello Vicki, how are you” somehow told me what I certainly did not want to hear. The pathology report did reveal carcinoma. My world stood still as I bravely asked all the questions I could possibly think of during those frightful minutes. I cannot remember any of the questions except the one I think is the most important. “What stage is it?” He explained it was probably Stage 2. Later to find out after the lumpectomy, it was, in fact, Stage 1, with no invasion to the lymph nodes. What a Blessing!!!!!!!
After hanging up, I ran to our garden area, which is surrounded by woods and screamed, hollered and cried and demanded to know, “Why me, Lord?”. As I was crying, a calmness came over me and it was as if the Lord said, “Why not you?”. I didn’t understand this message from Him until much further down the road. I cannot say that having experienced Breast Cancer did not carry with it a lot of horrible emotions. IT DID. I was on an emotional roller coaster ride. At times I still am. I sometimes awaken in the middle of the night or when I’m lost in thought, think that it all was a nightmare.
Cancer has taught me to appreciate all the things in life that we so often take for granted, for example, the beauty of our glorious, West Virginia mountains.
I am married and the mother of two wonderful boys, ages 11 and 7. Yes, I was a late bloomer. My first son was born at 37 and my second son at 41. So you must know that I had to fight this battle with a vengeance. I know God did not give me these beautiful gifts at such a late age not to be able to see them grow into progressive, upstanding young men.
I firmly believe this was God’s way of sitting me down momentarily so that I could realize that I needed to be about MY FATHER’S BUSINESS.
As Gilder Radner so aptly stated, “HAVING CANCER IS BEING A MEMBER OF A CLUB OF WHICH I’D RATHER NOT BELONG”. But, since I am a member of the club, I have learned to head my membership in a positive direction. In June 1998 I was reading the local paper and came across RELAY FOR LIFE, the American Cancer Society’s signature event. The rest is history. As I became quite the activist, is when I understood God’s message of “Why not you?”. 1999 I was our county’s Relay For Life Chairperson; as I will be in 2000. I am on the ACS’s Board of Directors, chaired our Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraiser in 1998 and 1999. One of the most fulfilling rewards has been seeing the funds I’ve helped raise come back to our community.
This journey has been an incredible learning experience for me. The most important being that the Battle was not mine, but the Lord’s. As a 49 year old, almost two year survivor, there is much joy and hope after breast cancer. No test no testimony!!!!!!!!