The First Sign of Breast Cancer


In June of 1998 I was gliding through life with all the stresses of a full-time job with overwhelming responsibilities and endless hours required doing the job to the high standard that I held myself to.  I thought that I was invincible and no job could bring me down.  I thought that all the additional stresses that encased my personal life were nothing more than I could handle in a dayís work.  Then one evening while taking a shower my world crashed around me and I was, for a moment in time, frozen in my tracks.  I was doing a breast self-exam and there was this very large lump that was staring back at my through the mirror telling me that my life is never going to be the same after today.  Tears were not my first reaction.  I believe that shock had taken me over at that very moment in time and fear was yet to show its ugly face to me over time.  I left the bathroom quite in control, as I always needed my life to be, and went to my husband and asked him if he would come into the bedroom and I needed to show him something.  He entered the room with no idea what would follow in our lives after today either.  I showed him and allowed him to touch this foreign mass that I now had to face and seek medical guidance immediately.  We both looked into each otherís eyes and the tears and the fears all raged.  We have both been the rocks of our families and nothing could bring us down, but it had and with a crash landing to boot. 

The next morning I called my primary care doctor and he got me in right away that day and sent me directly to the surgeonís office to schedule the biopsy.  The surgeon took me right in that same day and the biopsy was scheduled for the next morning.  I was at the hospital at 5:00am with no bells on and with a stomach full of fears, but this had to be done.  It was over and I went home that same afternoon.  It took 10 days to grow the culture and before I would hear those dreadful words, you have breast cancer.  My husband was there with me when I got the news and we were left alone with all those critical decisions that had to be made right away.  We decided together that the mastectomy was a must in this case if I was going to have any hope of long term recovery and we scheduled it for two days later.  I was already scheduled to see a medical oncologist as soon as the surgery had healed to begin chemotherapy as well.  My life seems so out of control and chaotic suddenly and I was frightened by this new role I was playing.  I went from being everything to everyone to being barely me anymore.  I was fortunate that I had such a wonderful support system surrounding me. Both my parents are alive and relatively healthy and they are always there for me.  My husband is the wind beneath my wings and he has been my guardian angel through many years of fighting this battle.  My sister has not been there for me, but that is her choice and I do not judge her for the choices she has made.  We each have to live our lives as we feel is right for us and not as we think we should live it in someone elseís eyes.  I have a brother who I did not share a close relationship with over the years, but I always knew, as he did, if we ever needed one another, we would be there in a heartbeat.  I never realized how much I needed him until now when the end seems to be inevitable.  It is so sad how we go through life wasting such precious time until we suddenly are faced with having little time left to complete all those hopes and dreams we carried through childhood and on into our adult lives.  If only we realized that we really have no time at all and everything we are blessed with is frosting on the cake, so to speak.  We take life for granted and that we will wake up tomorrow to see another sunrise and live to witness another amazing sunset tonight.  That isnít so.  The only moment we have is the very moment we are living and God wants us to make that moment count for all our hopes and dreams in case he wonít bless us with tomorrow.  I donít really have any time to waste worrying about what could or should have been in the past and I have let all that go.  This I have learned over the past four years battling with a deadly disease that shows no mercy to anyone due to race, religion, creed, sex, wealthy, poor, weak, strong or any other factor that we as humans use to justify why we do or do not become vulnerable to something we cannot control.  None of this matters with this disease.  Some of its victims will be fortunate and remain cancer free for many years; others of us will never be able to win the battle.  I have to believe that this is all a greater plan that God has for each of us in order to face this fate with pride and dignity, as would be the only way that I could do it.  I would like to crumble into a ball on the floor and just shut myself off from the world and let it go like the weakling that the disease has attempted to make me into to, but that would not be me.  I have always been a fighter and I will always be one.  To give into these weaknesses would be turning against all that I have believed myself to be my whole life.


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