Nine-Year Cancerversary: Living with Breast Cancer

21 Comments

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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21 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

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have lost far too many family members and friends to cancer; and, it is disheartening that we still have so many unanswered questions. Living with breast cancer has motivated me not only to do all that I can to “survive,” but to seek out those things that will allow me to “thrive. Hugs.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jumped over from the Senior Salon
        ~~~~~~~~~~~
        SUPER attitude. Congratulations. You *look* great, btw.

        I am a long-time melanoma survivor, but am sad to disclose that my sister lost her fight with breast cancer. Like you, her mammograms came back clean – even the one taken in the office the very day her doctor put her in the hospital because she suspected there was something that didn’t “feel” right, having just come back to work following a similar experience herself. There is so much they just don’t know.

        Jaye lived long enough for her boys to become young adults, and probably would have beaten it herself except for her concomitant diagnosis as a “brittle” Type-I diabetic with heart complications, which forced cancer treatment stoppage several times.

        YOU GO GIRL. Thanks for sharing this most important anniversary.
        xx,
        mgh
        (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
        ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
        “It takes a village to educate a world!”

        Like

      • Thank you or sharing your cancer story. There are far too many. Today, I visited a Facebook friend’s page and was shocked to learn of her death. Several years ago, we connected through an online breast cancer support group. I last connected with her on February 16 when she posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed and wrote, “my breathing is better, pray for me.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am so sorry to read about your friend. That must be very hard for you.

        I wish I knew why some of us survive and others succumb. I certainly hope all will be revealed once we get to the other side, but meanwhile I believe we must be kind to one another and help where we are able – and pray that medical science will shortly be able to cure diseases like cancer.

        Onward & upward!
        xx, mgh

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  2. I’m humbled to read your story as I always am when I read a true story of survival. Many many congratulations on your canceversary and may you celebrate oodles more!

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      • Well hello Seasoned Sistah! How lovely to meet you and how you flatter me by following my blog. I will certainly look forward to getting to know you. Welcome and I do hope I don’t disappoint!

        Like

  3. So happy that you shared this story. You are truly an encouragement and inspiration. I’ve feared my first mammogram as cancer runs heavily in my family. I feel much more comfortable moving forward now. Thank you<3

    Like

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