My Story of Hope
In November 2014, I went in for my yearly mammogram. I was called about 3 days later that there was something suspicious on the test and I needed to come back for a diagnostic test. Well, the radiologist recommended that I see a surgeon. I scheduled an appointment, went in and the doctor indicated that the lump was very small and very unlikely to be cancer. So we did a biopsy and unfortunately it was cancer. Stage 0.
So we had surgery to remove - I elected to have a lumpectory because the tumor was so small and not very deep. At this time they removed the lymph nodes and 11 out of 18 came back positive - now I'm stage 3. After all of the testing it was Estrogen +, her 2 - and genetic -.
I started chemo at the end of March 2015. Started with 4 rounds of Adriamycin (red devil) and Cytoxin. I was very cancer uninformed - had never heard of the Red Devil! After 10 days of the first treatment I started losing my hair and on the 14th day I had it shaved off. I invited my sister and nieces to come to my house and we sat in my dining room. We told funny family stories while one niece shaved my head. Another niece swept everything up and it was done. Whew, what a relief that was! I was bald and the world hadn't ended! LOL
At my second treatment, the chemo nurse told me that they didn't call it the Red Devil anymore - they called it the Blood of Christ.
“It's saving your life,” she told me “so we know that wouldn't be the devil.”
After the 4 rounds were done I started Taxol for 16 weekly doses. While that was going on they started me on radiation - 42 daily doses. I will be honest with you, the chemo was not a problem for me but radiation wore me out! I ended up with three 2nd degree burns and at that point I added burn victims to my daily prayers. Radiation also affected my lung and I had a horrible cough for about 2 weeks that they gave me a steroid dose pack for. That cleared it up quickly!
I finished all treatment on 9/11/16 - and ringing that bell was the highlight of it all! What a feeling!
I've never been silent about having cancer, I want every woman I know the importance of self check and yearly mammograms. I had family and friends that hadn't had a mammogram in 5 + years and I made sure they got back on track!
I've always been the one in my family who took care of everyone else so depending on others was very difficult for me. A very good friend and co-worker came in my office one day and said, "Anita, you don't have to be Super Woman all the time! Let others help you, it makes them feel better that they can do something for you." I certainly could not have gone through all of this without my family, my co-workers and my friends. And I did work through all of this, I knew staying busy and positive would be key for me.
Cancer is a very frightening disease but I felt like this was a message from God that I needed to start taking better care of myself. I was over weight and not very active. I've since gotten to a healthy weight and exercise daily. I thank God every day for this opportunity to make life better. I've recently volunteered with the American Cancer Society Reach for Recovery Program in an effort to be there for others who are facing breast cancer. During the month of October I wear pink every day and flood my Facebook with messages of breast cancer awareness. If I can help one person get through it then my battle was worth every minute!