My mom had passed away five years prior from metastatic breast cancer to the bones and brain. When my son turned six months, I visited my obgyn and had the testing. Imagine my elation when it came back negative. That was March. In mid July I noticed a palpable lump. I was still nursing so my breasts were handled multiple times daily. After a quick exam we figured it was a clogged milk duct and I went on my way. By September I had weaned and noticed the lump was still there.
I was in for a mammogram and ultrasound the following morning. The next week I had a core needle biopsy, and by the end of the week I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 32. Stage IIb multifocal Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Er+/Pr-+/Her2-, with two positive nodes. Two weeks later I had a bilateral modified radical mastectomy without reconstruction. This choice was easy, I wanted the cancer off, and living without breasts is not as bad as I thought it would be. I completed four rounds of AC, twelve rounds of Taxol, twenty five radiation treatments and I am currently in my second year of Tamoxifen. I am very fortunate that I teach full time from home so I missed very little work.
For new survivors I would like to share that waiting is the hardest part. Waiting for results and doctors. Just waiting. After you have a plan in place things are not easy, but you know the road you are headed down. The most important thing is to not be afraid to take help. People want to help. Let them bring you dinner, watch your children or fold your socks. I am not sure how I would have made it through without my crew keeping all of us stay afloat. Our children are resilient. Our daughter was 9, and understood. She was helpful, but we also gave her space to negotiate her feelings. Our one year old who is now three just realized last week that mommy does not have nipples, he does not even remember mama being sick.
Always continue to work on your relationship with your spouse. Cancer is a family disease, and it is easy to become so involved in keeping ourselves well that we overlook our partners and how this may be affecting them. Lastly, at two years, I will not say the view is rosy, but life has taken on a new normal.
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