No one is more aware of Breast Cancer month than me. I was diagnosed with the dreaded disease in January 2011. It is such a shock discovering something which usually happens to someone else has just affected you. One fateful morning I discovered something different with my left breast through self-examination, which I never do, and decided to examine further. I was totally shocked to learn I was 8 months overdue for my yearly checkup. I went to my doctor a few days later and went for a mammogram, a sonogram and a day later for a needle biopsy since they found something “highly suspicious.”
I had to wait over the weekend to get results and it was not a pleasant experience, but I remained positive and just knew all would check out fine because I didn’t have a history of breast cancer in my family. I soon found out that was a myth according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. They say, “While women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who develop breast cancer have no family history of it at all and that only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have it in their family history.”
I have a somewhat bizarre way of dealing with things, but I found comfort in writing a chronicle of events and sharing the good, the bad and the ugly with family and friends. It helped me build a huge support group, to keep a positive attitude and to maintain my sense of humor. Cancer of any kind is no laughing matter but I feel that if you are able to do the things just mentioned and most importantly keep a strong faith in God, you can overcome the fears that try to overtake your body. When I went in for my lumpectomy, I felt a wonderful peace come over my whole body and I knew that everything would be all right and that God was with me. I don’t recall being wheeled down the hall after recovery but one of my best friends from grade school was there and said I gave her a salute and started saying the Girl Scout pledge. I guess that was my way of telling her all was well.
After four chemo treatments and 38 radiation treatments, I am now cancer free. Regular checkups with my oncologist and taking my daily little cancer pill lessen my chances of a recurrence. I have continued to maintain my real estate career and am proud to say this year has been my best year ever. I am like the Energizer bunny…I just keep going and going.
The main thing you can learn from this is what you already knew….ladies, do not miss your yearly mammograms and remember that men can also get breast cancer. Remember, self-examination is important! If you feel something different about your breast, it will lead you to your doctor who will put you through the grind of having tests to determine if you are indeed one of those that is affected by the blasted disease. The earlier you find it…the better your chances are for survival. So much has been accomplished in the medical field regarding cancer and new drugs are coming out all the time, but early detection is the real key so please, please, please go get your yearly mammogram and let’s all kick cancer in the butt.
FACTS ABOUT BREAST CANCER IN THE UNITED STATES
- One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
- Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.
- Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die.
- Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year.