Monday, July 25, 2011

I am a survivor of the big C.....cancer

I have told my story before, and I will continue to tell it as long as I am capable. While I am fine now, every follow up test and visit comes up clean-there are those out there that need to be told, need to be reminded that it is possible. To be a cancer survivor.

Right after my fiftieth birthday I had my annual physical. It was then that my physician told me that I needed to have a mammogram- because of breast density and other reasons I honestly do not recall he had not thought it necessary until then. I have always respected this doctor and even though I have never asked I wondered if he just had a gut feeling that lead him to have the mammogram scheduled. This was October, the mammogram was scheduled for November, right after Thanksgiving.

I wasn't worried.

I found the place and went strolling in there filled with confidence in my health and plans for how I was going to spend the rest of the day. After all was said and done I was told that since this was my very first mammogram I might be called back since they had nothing to compare the images with. I nodded and smiled and went on my merry way. They called and the follow up was scheduled for the day after Christmas.

I wasn't worried.

Mom went with me. The plan was to get the images made and head out to do that after Christmas bargain hunting. They only wanted images from one side. One set, show to doctor. A second set, show it to the doctor, a third set.. and they wanted an ultrasound. I go and get dressed and follow the technician back down the hallway only half listening to her chatter. Taking my seat I waved back as the technician waved and wandered back the way we had come.

I was a tiny bit worried.

After the ultrasound I was told my doctor would be in touch. I didn't feel much like shopping after all that. Mom and I did go to one store, but our heart wasn't in it so we went home.

The doctor called and I had an appointment with a surgeon. On the scheduled day I went and saw the notice on the window that she was running late. I was supposed to be going back to work, now I wondered if that was going to happen. When I finally got back we talked, she did her own ultrasound and decided to do a needle biopsy. That area is not meant for needles. I hurt for days. When I went back for the results a few days later I was told that A-typical cells had been found. That did not mean I had cancer, but these cells were generally present when there was cancer. A surgical biopsy was scheduled. I didn't really need that- I already knew.

I was now officially scared.

I got back to work and was so distracted everyone that spoke to me caused me to jump nearly out of my skin. I wandered toward the back of the department and leaning over a large box began to pray. "Lord, I don't want to go through this, I really don't want this..please.."

Nothing.....................absolutely nothing, will get your attention like being chastised by the Holy Spirit. Hearing the words, "How dare you? How DARE you not want to do this for me after all I've done for you???"

um..sorry Lord. But I knew, I knew I was not in it alone and everything would be fine. No matter what the outcome was, I'd be fine.

When the surgical biopsy came back cancerous the surgery was scheduled. I missed two days of work and then was back. Thankfully they had me mostly directing, point and instruct instead of actual work until I was healed. The surgical biopsy hurt worse that the actual surgery and left more bruising from the bandages but there is only a very small scar where the surgery was done and where the lymph nodes were removed.

I did not have to undergo chemotherapy but I did have to go through radiation treatments. I felt like those treatments were stealing my very essence, I felt like a zombie trying to move through life. Working was difficult, but I made it. My diet was changed radically, my very routine was changed. I had people asking me on a regular basis how I was doing.

This was in 2008. It was a long slow haul trying to get back to the energy levels I was at before all this happened. There are times I think I am there, and times I wonder if I will ever get there. I participate in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, being a part of the committee that does the planning and pulling things together. I have my tent and the ribbons I make to sell to raise money for Relay. And I write, and I share and I let people know...cancer is not an automatic death sentence. I write about my experience and I write about ways people can change their diet and their lifestyles to help prevent cancer..Changes will be made, everything- will change. The way you look at things, the way you act, eat, exercise, act and interact with people. It will change, but if you go about it right- it will all be for the better.

I had cancer--it was caught early thanks to a mammogram and a really good surgeon and a doctor that listened to that gut feeling. I am..a cancer survivor.

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1 comment:

  1. Scary!

    So glad that you are okay now!

    Thank you for sharing this! It is a great reminder for all of to take those tests...