1. What type of cancer were you diagnosed with and when? Breast; 12/28/2010 & 11/14/2016
Well it was the second week in September 2016, almost 6 years after my initial Stage 1 BC dx. I was scheduled to see my plastic surgeon for my annual exam. I wasn't going to go because my implant felt fine. I'd already had five surgeries and I didn't want to endure another, so I had made my mind up and decided I wasn't going. The day of something just told me to call the plastic surgeon's office and that's what I did. After briefly speaking with the receptionist I decided I'd leave work and make my way downtown to Mercy Medical Ctr from Middle River. After a little wait, I saw Dr Chang. He examined my right breast which was my natural breast, the breast I paid more attention to because I always felt like if cancer reared its hideous self in my body again, it would be there. I had some sagging, but I was OK with that. My husband is fine with it , I'm fine with it and most importantly I didn't want a sixth surgery. So he gets to the left (my January 2011 mastectomy side). He says "you have something here under the skin that doesn't feel right; you need to get in with your breast surgeon". I've had a few scares in the past, so I was hoping it was just like the others- just some scar tissue or something of that nature. So on the way home from my plastic surgeon visit, I made a call to my breast surgeon whom I hadn't seen in close to four years. That next week my husband and I went to see him. He told me, there is something there so let's just get you in for ultrasound. So when I got home from the appointment, I called advanced radiology. They had an appointment a few weeks out and it didn't seem urgent, so I took that date. I had the ultrasound which showed suspicion. The radiologist told me to get in touch with my doctor, then schedule the biopsy. I told her "no, I'm scheduling today". So that's what I did, and had it the next week. On 11/14, I got a phone call. The young lady on the other end of the phone said your breast surgeon wants to know when you'd like to come in. I replied "come in for what?" She says to discuss treatment options. I had just walked through the security gate at my job, planning to do a full days work.
I was able to do almost that , but around 1:30 it hit me like a ton of bricks. Over the following few weeks the devastation started to consume me. I couldn't believe this was happening to me again- 37 years old with BC twice. I did everything as the doctors instructed and was even on Tamoxifen, and not only did it return in the removed breast but it had spread to my lymph nodes. I had just celebrated my five year cancerversary of my last chemo on June 2. I went through so much emotional turmoil. I felt like I was not going to be here much longer. I also had thoughts of not doing treatment and just riding it out until God wanted to call me home by traveling to places I've never been, doing things I've never done and just living life to the absolute fullest with no worries, no treatment until it was my time to leave earth. But here I am now. Had extensive surgery in December, today had my six of sixteen round of chemotherapy. I have another surgery ahead of me to redo my 2011 mastectomy that left too much breast tissue, reconstruction to my right mastectomy and port removal, then after I heal 30 rounds of radiation. After all of that is done, I also have to go on hormone therapy which will also change my life and not for the better. However, as long as I am here to share love and laughter with my loved ones, travel the world, truly feel good mentally, spiritually and emotionally and look good while doing it, then I'm good with that!
2. How old were you when you were diagnosed?
31 & 37
3. What/Who helped you get through your treatment?
My will to watch my son grow up to be successful is the what. My husband, aunt, mom in law, sister friends & loved ones who visited me during surgery, recovery & treatment is The Who.
4. When were you deemed Cancer Free?
I consider my cancer free date 6/2/2011 my cancer free date as it was my last chemo in my first battle.
5. What did you do to celebrate that special day and your anniversary day?
My husband gave me (and my brother in law who has renal failure) a surprise survivor party
6. Do you have any special charities that you are involved in or host as a survivor?
I am a mentor through S.O.S. (survivor's offering support) & Making Strides Baltimore
7. What advice would you give to someone that is just being diagnosed?
Cry when you have to, ask every single question that you have (write it down as soon as you think of it), educate yourself, improve your eating, try to maintain your normal as much as you can, tell people what you need and let them help you, pay attention to your body and take care of all of YOU.