In 1992 I was the mother of a new born a one year old and a fiesty 5 year old. I was also told the difficulties I was having breast feeding were because of a lump. Simply I would need to have a needle biopsy and discontinue breast feeding. I was 25 years old and to young to worry. Dropped the kids off at Mom’s and off I went to the doctor’s office. As I sat in the waiting I saw a woman sitting with a blank stare. I went over to her and she said she was waiting to see the doctor to find out how to deal with cancer. Not me I was just there to have a biopsy. She patted my hand. The biopsy was uncomfortable but not scary. Then I got the call and began to feel the blank stare approach. I did not share this with any of my family, and I went to the doctor’s ashamed and feeling alone.
I sat in the waiting room remembering the haunting stare, as the nurse called my name I was escorted into the doctor’s plush office with a desk no table with paper. the doctor entered and explained that at this point a doctor that specialized in cancer would be joining us to schedule a lumpectomy. I can remember searching for a clever thing to say…”oh well my breast is just furniture”. I scheduled the surgery contacted the insurance and let my employer know what was happening. My husband came home and I told him and he told me he was not going to be able to handle this. He was leaving. As he packed the kids cried and told me they were angry with me. I was wrong to be sick.
The lumpectomy showed that a mastectomy was needed and they went ahead as we had talked about and did it. I awoke and instantly my hand went up to feel. Mounds of bandages fooled me and I cried when the surgeon came in. He was confident but chemo and lots of things were in my future. I went home and my kids were glad to have me. My employer let me work part time at work and part time at home. I was doing well my hair was straight and thin and fell out. As I finished the treatment it came in curly and thick. I was thrilled. I met with a local woman who told me about a insert to fill my bra. It was hot and uncomfortable and I often forgot it. Remembering when I saw a man look up embarrassed. I can remember changing in the bathroom at my office into jeans and a tshirt to go to a baseball game. Getting into the elevator and heading to the ground floor and thinking I forgot somethiing. As we stopped at each floor I noticed people were acting funny. I dropped my keys and noticed. I announced out loud Great I forgot my boob on the counter. Embarrassed laughter and lots of people staring at the floor convinced me that perhaps I should meet with a plastic surgeon. I had waited 10 years but was ready to resume living with a new breast. I had beat cancer and now was going to beat my fears.
Options, Options, Options… tissue expanders, tram flap procedure, implants. Brochures and paperwork. I was overwelmed. Dr, Furlman came in and we discussed al the options. My insurance was fantastic and I had lots of options. For me a Tram flap procedure was the answer. The surgeon explained that the he would simply take the tissue from my stomach (tummy tuck) and cut one of the muscles and loop it up and then my replacement would be me. It would be 6 months in recuperation. This surgeon reassured me and we proceeded. The surgery went well and I walked with a walker and I learned to adjust to my new figure. I was completly healed and back to work in 3 months and was glad I had waited to really make the best decision for me.
To me breast cancer was something that cancelled dreams and turned my life upside down. In the turning upside down I had wished I was more aware of what breast cancer was. I wondered why there was not more support in my hospital. As time has past and more people have become aware I am thrilled to see that things have changed. With the followup and the massive amounts information available there are still people that have no access to the health professionals, I did. The experts in the field that were pioneering new treatments and different alternatives to simply being disfigured by a devastating desease.
The time is now to reach out to all women! You should be checking and having exams. There is nothing to fear and there is help for you at any phase. Take care of you and the women in your life. Make it possible for all women to have treatment. I have beaten breast cancer and I am proud of this victory. To life and victory!
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