When I was a freshman in college my Mom was diagnoses with breast cancer. She had been sent by her family doctor to a heart specialist and this doctor found a small lump in her breast. When Mom’s family doctor examined the lump he did not like what he felt so he sent my Mom to the hospital for further tests.
At that time they did a mammogram which showed something. Even then some of the doctors did not think it was anything but they decided to do a biopsy. Many were very surprised when the biopsy came back positive. I don’t even think the operating room was even setup to do the mastectomy the doctors were so sure it was nothing. So they setup the operating room and signed the paper work and on September 27, 1978 my Mom had a mastectomy.
During Mom’s recovery I always remembered her doing her “rope” exercise. She would throw a rope over a door and first stretch one arm up and then the other. The doctors had removed lymph nodes and some muscle so this “simple” exercise was pretty difficult and painful for Mom but she persevered and made a full recovery.
Then in March 1981 we received another scare. During her regular mammogram (and sonogram) they found a “mass” in the remaining breast. Tests were done; questions asked and answered; emotions ran high. There was a lot of discussion about doing a needle biopsy but there was a great deal of fear that the doctors would not get the exact spot where the “mass” was in the breast. What if they missed and the biopsy was negative but cancer was still there growing?
The fear was too great and the risk too high so the decision was made to remove the other breast. The biopsy proved to be negative. Looking back I’ve often wondered was God’s hand in that decision and I like to think yes. Some people may think what a terrible thing to lose a breast for no reason. But no one but God knows what the future holds and I believe that God protected my Mom.
My mother is a 23 year cancer survivor. Through the years many women in her small Alabama town have had breast cancer. My mom has been right there counseling, holding their hands and giving support as only a breast cancer survivor can do. She has lost many friends to this terrible disease.
In the last two years (1999 and 2000) my Mom and I have participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure walk in Houston, Texas. I have thoroughly enjoyed doing this event with her. Cancer survivors are given pink hats and t-shirts to help them stand out in the crowd. I think this is very encouraging for many women. There is such a sense of togetherness when these outstanding and courageous women meet that it is indescribable.