Living with Cancer

I have cancer, breast cancer to be exact. I was diagnosed in 2009. I felt the lump. I felt it during my self breast exam while showering. I had an appointment with my doctor the following week and had a breast exam. He didn’t feel anything so I kept quiet. The lump would appear and disappear during my period and I didn’t think nothing of it. One month, the lump stayed, the following month the lump was still there and it felt bigger and it was painful.

Finally, I went to have a mammogram at a breast center, while there the radiologist called my doctor with the result. I was called in and had an ultrasound and finally I had a biopsy. I was at the breast cancer for five hours. I went home with two small ice packs in my bra. I prayed on my way home during the drive back. That was a Thursday.

On Tuesday, a week before Thanksgiving, I received a call from my doctor’s office asking me to stop by. My office is in the same town as my doctor’s office and if was basically a mile and a half away. It was an easy drive. I told my manager that I had to leave and she understood. I basically told her what was going on. I left and headed straight to the doctor’s office.

When I got to the office, I was asked to wait in his office. Believe me when I say that I had all sorts of thoughts running through my head. I waited and paced back and forth. My doctor escorted me to an exam room and an intern joined us. So my first thoughts were, “Oh, man. They need to people to tell me the news.” By then, I already knew what the news as going to be. I knew deep down that it was cancer. I only thing I didn’t know was what stage it was.

My doctor sat across from me. “You have cancer.” Hearing someone tell you you have cancer is surreal. It really is. I don’t remember exactly what else he said after telling me I had cancer. He may have said, “Good news is it’s in the early stage and I can recommend come good doctors.”

As soon as I heard, “You have cancer.” my life flashed before my eyes and my thoughts were about who was going to take care of my kids, age 10 and 7 and how was I supposed to tell my parents, more importantly my mom, that I had cancer. My mom had her own cancer battle.

I left my doctor’s office and cried. Then I called my husband with the news. I wanted to wait until I got home to tell him, but he wanted to know right away. So I told him over the phone that I had cancer. I drove back to work, nose red and eyes red from crying and told my manager. I drove back to work because I left my purse in my desk. I left work with only the car key.

Telling my mom I had cancer was difficult. I called her and asked her how she was doing and feeling. Some small talk and finally I told her. “Mom,” I said,”I have something to tell you.” “Okay,” she said. “I have cancer. My doctor told me just an hour ago that I have cancer.” She was quiet then she asked if it was positive. I said yes. She was in denial and kept asking me about the biopsy results and I told her as much as I knew.

My husband didn’t want the kids to know about my cancer. I wanted to tell them right away. I didn’t want to lie to them. I told them a few days later when I knew more of what type of cancer I had. They cried. I reassured them that it was going to be okay and that we will take things one day at a time.

The following weeks and months consisted of doctors’ appointments, consultations and second and third opinions and during those weeks and months, family members and friends found out what was going on. And during those weeks and months, I cried. I cried in the early morning hours, usually around three or four. I cried in the shower. I cried while getting dressed. I cried after dropping the kids off to school. I cried on my way to work. I cried on my way to pick up the kids. I cried while making dinner.

And during those weeks and months, I read and did a lot of research. I was Stage O, Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). I met with a breast surgeon and a plastic surgeon and discussed the course of treatment: mastectomy of the right  breast and reconstruction.

I had surgery in February. It took six hours.  I stayed in the hospital for four days, not because of any complication, but because of the weather: blizzard.

Sometimes, I think my husband thinks I’m Wonder Woman or something. He was puzzled when it took long for me to recover. In all seriousness, I took about two weeks. I probably could have gone back to work, but I took eight weeks of disability.

Based on my research, I decided not to go on Tamoxifen. I was Stage O, the lymph nodes were clear. I had cancer was only in my right breast. PET scan six months and then yearly.

Fast forward to July 2015… To be continued.

 

 

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