Well my story is probably like many women’s’ stories although each is unique and different. In the summer of 2000 I celebrated my 45th birthday with my husbands’ family in St. Louis, Mo. A great time was had by all. I felt great and thought life was going well. After we arrived home from our vacation I got the usual reminder call from the mammography department about my appointment. So I went in for my annual mammogram which I had been doing since I was about 39 years old. Things seemed fine. They called me the next day and indicated I needed to have a biopsy done. They were reassuring that this was a routine thing and they were just wanting to make sure things were okay.
So the biopsy was done on a Wednesday. I was told that someone would call on Friday Aug. 3rd with the results around 4:00pm. Well 4:00 came and went. I waited until 4:30 and decided to call. I talked with several people and got no where. I told them I would be leaving at 5:00 and after that they could call me at home. Well needless to say I didn’t hear anything by 5:00. So I tried to tell myself to keep calm things were fine. Like the old saying goes “No news is good news.” Boy was I in for a shocker.
Here I am driving home from work and my husband calls me on my cell phone. He had my family doctor on the line as well. My Dr. says Sabrena I have the results of your biopsy. You have breast cancer. He felt bad telling me over the phone but at the moment felt I needed to know. I just lost it. I started crying so hard over the phone. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I felt numb and like I was given a death sentence. I tried to pull myself together and come up with questions and remain safe driving. He didn’t have any more information other than what he was told. I didn’t know how bad it was or what to expect. Here it was Friday night and I had to go through the weekend not knowing how bad it was and imaging the worse.
My husband was at the door waiting for me and hugged me for the longest time. Needless to say Monday morning came and I was on the phone calling and making an appointment with a Dr. of Oncology and radiation. He was recommended as the first person to see. So my husband and I went in and we were there for 4 hours. He went through in detail about breast cancer and where I was on the scale. I had a lump about 1 inch in diameter which was classified as a T2. He answered all our questions and what to expect as far as treatments goes.
So I then was seen by a another Oncologist. She use to work at Mayo Clinic. She met with us and recommended a surgeon. So we went to see him. I never saw so many doctors in all my life as I had then. So we discussed the options and I had a lumpectomy done in September of 2000. I had a port a cath put in for the chemo treatments and blood draws. So for 6 months I had chemo therapy. I was tired and towards the end I would get sick after the chemo injections. I didn’t lose my hair but it thinned out in places.
The chemo ended Feb. 15, 2001. I then saw Dr. Taylor (Oncologist/Radiation Dr.) for about 8 weeks for radiation treatments. The radiation was better than the chemo but I had like a bad sun burn on the underneath side of my right breast. Needless to say I made it through all that. After the chemo ended we celebrated and then after the radiation treatments we celebrated again.
So every 6 months I went in for a mammogram to make sure things were going well. So after almost a year of seeing one Dr. or another for something I thought things were finally calming down. Yeah! September of 2001 I was having some issues with the area where the surgeon had performed the lumpectomy. So I started seeing him on a regular basis to figure out what to do and what causing the problems. I had a mammogram scheduled on September 11, 2001. He said make sure the results are sent to me. By then I had the 4 Dr.’s names and phone numbers down so when I was asked who needed the results after a test was performed I could recall them pretty easily.
Well, needless to say I was called by the surgeons’ nurse and she indicated I needed to come in to discuss the results. So when the surgeon came in he said “You now have breast cancer on the left side.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I have never cried so much in my life as I have over this. So we discussed the options. The second time I got breast cancer it was not as far along as the first time. It had not formed a lump yet. Since I was having issues with the right side and now the left side had cancer I choose to have a bilateral mastectomy. I went in September 28, 2001 for the mastectomy.
The next 5 months was an experience that I will never forget. The skin died in a couple places which was causing me to have multiple infections. I was constantly on antibiotics which were being changed approximately every 2 weeks so I would get the most benefit out of them. I was seeing the surgeon at least once if not twice a week for the first couple months. Once he removed the dead skin the infections went away.
The first time I had to change the bandages after the removal of skin I looked in the mirror and just cried. I woke my husband up from a sound sleep. He hugged me the best he could under the circumstances. I will never forget what he said. He said “You have had a sense of humor through all this. Look at this like a bad hair cut. Once it is cut off you can’t glue it back on.” I laughed so hard I cried. I needed to hear that.
So on Feb. 28, 2002 I said goodbye to my wonderful surgeon. I thanked him for all the wonderful care I received. Since I choose to have a bilateral mastectomy I did not need to have chemo or radiation treatments. I do take tamoxifen. I will have been on it for a year in June 2002. I still see my Oncologist every 6 months. She is great and understanding since she has had breast cancer herself. I feel very fortunate to have had 4 great doctors through all this.
Now that I have gotten that off my chest I want to thank you for reading my story. My family has been great and very supportive. I am especially thankful to have my husband help me through everything. So I guess I am a survivor for 9 months. I really look at things differently. I don’t take life or loved ones for granted. People can email me if they like. I don’t mind sharing my experiences.