Karen M. Hanson
I had my annual mammogram in May and they found a small cancer in my right breast. So I spent my summer having a lumpectomy, radiation treatments and now am almost healed from radiation burns. I was hesitant to tell others when my cancer was diagnosed. I wanted to wait until I knew what my treatment plan would be and how serious it was. Even then I did not want to tell anyone. I guess I thought it would be real if I talked about it. My husband understood my hesitation but also knows me really well and knew that I would need and want the support of my family and friends. And he was right.
After sharing the news with our families, he started telling my friends at our church and I was overwhelmed with support and prayers from friends and from people I really did not know very well. I was amazed at the number of women who came to me and told me about their cancer experience. People I had known for years and did not know they had gone through their own cancer journey. People who I met just because they wanted to share what had happened to them, to their sister, to their aunt. How they all survived and how I would too!
I had an amazing team of doctors and therapists and a nurse navigator who listened and answered questions. But it was the friends at my church who gave me advice like: wear a tee shirt under your bra so it does not rub against the incision and the radiation burns. Be selfish with your time, you need to rest and heal. Even if the timeline for healing is such and such, give yourself time to adjust to what is happening to you. One of my friends who I had known had breast cancer told me it would be a year before I felt like myself again.
t has been 4 months since my initial diagnosis. A lot happened very quickly but I am healing and starting to feel like the end of the cancer journey is near. I have new medications that I will be on and more tests in my future. I have to be on a hormone blocker. I was diagnosed with osteopenia and will have to get a shot every six months. I need to take vitamin D and calcium supplements now. I was used to taking one high blood pressure pill every day and now I take 5 pills every morning. I was used to going to a doctor once a year and now since May it is unusual if I do not see a doctor for a week! I have more tests and doctor visits in my future but I am very lucky.
I have been blessed with family, friends and strangers who care and pray for me every day. My breast cancer was too small for me to feel as a lump but my cancer was found and treated. Please take time to have your mammogram! Take time to take care of you.