Posted on 10/1/2013
My breast cancer story is probably like many other women out there, but each story is unique since we all are different in one way or another. No two bodies, no two cancers and no two medical histories are alike. Here’s my story, I hope in my sharing it with you today it brings you or someone you know hope.
It all began with my annual mammogram in November of 1999 when I was 67 years old. When my results were in, I learned it was not normal and I needed to undergo a biopsy. So, almost immediately, I had a needle biopsy.
I remember when I received the biopsy results. Kelly and I were driving to Eldorado, Ill., about 300 miles south of Marseilles, for Thanksgiving dinner with his parents. The results were cancerous.
I was stunned, but not shocked. My own sister died in her 50’s from breast cancer, and so too did several of my first cousins. My aunt had breast cancer as well, but survived. I knew breast cancer pretty well; now it was my turn.
My next step was to find out what my options were. I went to a surgeon for a consult to find out what options he recommended I do based on my particular case. I had basically two options to choose from: I could have a lumpectomy and just cut the cancer out, or I could remove all of the breast and some lymph nodes to ensure it didn’t spread. I went with the second option, a modified radical mastectomy. So, in December of 1999, I had surgery to remove my right breast and surrounding tissue including some lymph glands.
The reason why I went with the more radical approach was simple. I knew my baby feeding days were long behind me, and because I did not want there to be any tissue left behind that could be cancerous. I felt comfortable with the choice at the time…I still do to this day.
I recovered from the surgery rather quickly, and with the help of the three best nurses and doctor I know (my three daughters – Paula, Ruth and Sarah, and husband, Kelly) I was in great hands at home. Their love, support and care helped me recover rather fast.
As an optimist, I always felt this “bump in the road” was not going to slow me down. Sure, the surgery was pretty major, and it took me a few weeks to be less and less sore. There are still some lasting effects from it, such as always being certain to have my blood pressure and blood drawn from my left arm not my right. But, those are all such minor things, I needn’t even think about them, they are just second nature.
After surgery, I was advised to see an oncologist and was given the choice to have chemotherapy or not. I chose to do a few doses of it, given I was healthy going into this and didn’t have any other underlying medical conditions. I thought it would be easier on me than it really was. Boy, was I wrong. I felt awful! Luckily for me, it was optional, and I was able to discontinue it after only a few doses. I then was then put on Tomoxifen for five years as a precaution.
Now, many years later, I am cancer free and doing great! I am so glad I had my annual mammogram as I always did and still do to this day. I am glad it was treatable and that the surgeon was able to get all of the cancer out.
In all of this, it has caused concern among my daughters if I carry the gene and they are next. After all, many of my family have had breast cancer. Surprisingly, a few years ago I had genetic testing done and it turns out I do not carry the gene. Thank goodness! I am grateful that my daughters, granddaughters and the countless other future great granddaughters may never have to have this happen to them.
By sharing my experience, I hope it inspires others and gives them hope.
She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.