It was five years ago on the 11th of January that I got the call from my surgeon regarding the outcome of my biopsy. It confirmed what I knew. I had breast cancer.
I wasn’t able to feel my lump. I had a lobular mass that was picked up on my annual mammogram. I was compulsive about getting them each year. My maternal grandmother had died of breast cancer one month before I was born in 1948. Although getting breast cancer at her age didn’t put me at increased risk I still felt I needed annual test right from age forty. I’m an RN, so I knew the need for early diagnosis.
I was the only grandchild she didn’t live to see. Shortly before she passed away she awakened to tell my mom how happy she was that she had a baby girl. My mom tried to explain to her that she had not had the baby yet but my grandmother insisted that it was so real she felt that it had happened. Obviously, she was right. I always felt an incredible connection to my grandmother while growing up, so much so that I named my only daughter after her.
At age 52 I was feeling so very tired, I also had very strange sensations in my left chest area I couldn’t explain. I felt my left breast was bigger than my right. I would ask my husband and I also asked my surgeon and both told me it was not. I had lumpectomy surgery on Jan.26, 2001. I had no nodes involved and no blood vessels had formed to the tumor. That was the good news. The bad news was that it was larger than a centimeter (1 ½ ) so chemotherapy and radiation was in my future.
I would advise anyone to find a large, well respected cancer center for a second opinion. I went to Dana Farber in Boston . Many women would ask if I minded losing my hair. I would always say NO! Losing my life yes, my hair no. I wasn’t sick with Chemo (the new anti nausea drugs are so good!). I wasn’t very tired from the radiation. I learned to meditate, I read Depok Chopra’s book Quantum Healing. It may be a bit far out for some people but it has the ability to center you if you let it. I wasn’t much for support groups but I am fortunate to have a wonderful family, a great husband, a fantastic daughter and three fabulous sons.
If there is anything I can get across to your readers is that they need to get an annual mammogram. I have a friend who used to say “I don’t want to know”. My response was always “you’re going to know, the only question is do you want to know when it’s early enough to save your life”. She now gets a mammogram.