Sunday, October 25, 2015

Breast Cancer Awareness

As we close out Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I decided to post some reflections and a personal experience.  At first I was reluctant to share this because I don’t want sympathy, and I don’t want anyone staring at my chest when they run into me (ha ha) but the importance of getting checked regularly and consistently outweighs all modesty.  

This past August I made my annual trek to my favorite trip of the year, Houseboat on Lake Mead.  Sitting shotgun with one of my best buds, Jan, we agreed to cut the trip short so we could return home earlier than usual for more parties and events during the Labor Day weekend. 

Skipping details on how I ended up on a mechanical bull that weekend, I ended up in the emergency room with a miniscule tear to a leg ligament.  The nurse assigned to me fussed a bit as she reviewed my medical history – there was no recent record of a mammogram.   I laughed it off and told her I was too busy and that I was headed to a barbecue, with crutches. 

I remember her raising one eyebrow at me and saying, ‘My screen is flashing.  Get off my screen and go downstairs and get a mammogram.  It will take fifteen minutes.’   Like a little bad ass kid who has to go inside while his friends are still playing outside, I stomped as well as I could and headed down to radiology. 

Thirty minutes later I was home free to run the streets for the rest of the weekend.  So when I received a call several days later requesting another mammogram, it didn’t faze me in the least.  There was no medical history of anyone in my family with breast cancer, and besides, I exercised regularly, drank only bottled water, was very conscious of my intake of certain types of meat and occasionally ate like a vegetarian (my mindset).

A couple of days later I received another call. “Nothing to worry about,” said the nurse on the other line.  “Just a routine biopsy to check out a couple of abnormal cells.  There’s an 85% chance its nothing – probably just calcium buildup.” 

Now I felt just a tinge of nervousness. I arrived at my appointment and for the first time the possibility began to run through my head that I could be diagnosed.  I shook it off, went in for my procedure and went about my business.

So when I received the call a couple of days later that the abnormal cells were cancer cells, I felt sucker punched and stunned.  I also felt ashamed of myself that I was so na├»ve to think that a clean family history and occasionally vegging out would save me from the C word. 

I was diagnosed with a Stage 0 in situ carcinoma.  That means it was sitting in one place and there was the likelihood that it had not yet spread because it had been detected so early.

Two weeks ago, with a massive amount of prayers circulating (and my direct prayer to God asking for healing) I underwent surgery to remove the cancer cells.  Last week the surgeon informed me that there were no other cancer cells in the surrounding tissue they removed. My prayers and the fervent prayers of the saints were answered.  I may still have to undergo radiation and I’ve got to take meds, but I’m cancer free. I was overwhelmed with the support and love from my daughters, family members and friends and I share this story simply to communicate that it doesn’t matter what your history is, one in ten women are susceptible to breast cancer.

I encourage every female to get regular check-ups.  If you don’t have insurance, Google free mammograms in your area.  Please don’t think that because you are generally healthy, run, jog, ride your bike, ski, white water raft, climb mountains, eat like a vegetarian and have no history that you are not prone.  I mean, you are a super woman, no doubt, but breast cancer does not discriminate.   Get checked out. Annually. Please.



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