Nine-Year Cancerversary: Living with Breast Cancer

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On  a cold, snowy, early February morning,  in 2008, I noticed a large lump on the left breast.  My first thought was breast cancer.  I called the Eldest Daughter  and described the lump.  Using the voice I had grown accustomed to hearing after working in her medical practice for more than eight years, she calmly said, “breast cancer doesn’t usually present in this manner, but I will take a look before my first patient arrives.

Shortly after starting the exam,  she walked out without saying a word.  I waited on the exam table for about twenty minutes before I went looking for her.  I found her in my Youngest Daughter’s office.  She was talking on the phone and the Youngest Daughter was crying.

I asked the:

  • Eldest Daughter, “Why did you walk out in the middle of my exam?”
  • Youngest Daughter“Why are you crying?

Fear of the unknown best described how I felt when the Eldest Daughter said, “Mom, I just scheduled an appointment for you at the Women’s Health Center. I felt something unusual and want you to be evaluated there.”

The mammogram, ultra sound, biopsy, and needle biopsy all confirmed breast cancer.  On the first visit with my oncologist, I asked, “How is this possible? I just had a clean mammogram five months ago.”  I am not sure if he answered the question, but I clearly remember:

  • the diagnosis of Stage 1, Triple Negative Breast Cancer, and
  • him cautioning me to not search for answers on the internet.

Over the next eight months, I complied with the oncologist’s treatment plan; which included a lumpectomy; chemotherapy; radiation; and staying off the internet.

While in treatment, I connected with a local breast cancer advocacy and support group.  I am grateful to the women in this group as well as its founder and my mentor, Phyllis Holder.  They helped me to move from:

  • thinking of myself as a victim of breast cancer to
  • becoming an advocate for breast cancer awareness in the African-American community.

Even though miles separate me from the women in this group, I continue to support their programming efforts and it’s comforting to know that they are there for me..

Nine years later, in 2017, it’s a warm, sunny February afternoon in Orlando, Florida, I am:

  • cancer-free  with a loving family, supportive friends;
  • blessed with the gift of self-awareness and self-love; and
  •  worthy of living life to the fullest after my breast cancer diagnosis.

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4 thoughts on “Nine-Year Cancerversary: Living with Breast Cancer

  1. I’ve been away for a while, but you made me smile. Last year, i lost two dear friends (quite young to cancer), their bodies couldn’t take the Chemo. So when I see SURVIVORS, I’m excited. Many more beautiful years to you my dear friend. Big Hugss

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