As I shared with your earlier this month and again yesterday
, my mom is a breast cancer survivor and is totally enjoying life! I wanted to interview her and share it with you to give an idea of one person's experience with breast cancer, to inspire you to take care of yourself by getting that mammogram you've been putting off, to give more than you normally would toward finding a cure, or to offer support in some other way to cancer survivors in general. I'm proud to call my mom Mom
and to share her experience with her, as to me she is such an encouragement!
How old were you when you were diagnosed with breast cancer?
I was 64 years old when I was diagnosed, and am a 6 year survivor!
Is there a history of breast cancer in our family?
There is a history of breast cancer in our family included my Aunt Ethel, who was my mother’s sister.
How did you discover you had this disease?
I had a regular yearly appointment with my gynecologist, which included a mammogram and they found a small lump. I was then referred to one of our local surgeons.
What happened next, to determine what procedure you would have? What did this involve?
Follow up with the surgeon resulted in having a biopsy and what seemed a really long wait before getting the results. My sister-in-law accompanied me to that appointment and when the Dr. told me it was cancerous I was in disbelief at first. I was glad I had someone with me to hear that bad news. The only good part was that it was smaller than expected and could be taken care of.
What were your first thoughts? What did you do, who did you tell?
All I thought of at the time was what my husband had to go through with his gastro cancer and I did not want to have to go through the same thing. I cried a lot. When one hears that diagnosis, you think the worst. I knew I had to tell my children, which was the worst thing to do, not knowing the outcome of anything. So I just had to tell them and hoped they would pray for me. Of course, they did, especially my youngest daughter and her husband, they were terrific.
There are many possible procedures for breast cancer removal. What did they recommend, and do you know why they recommended it?
My surgeon discussed my prognosis and the procedure that would be performed. He recommended a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy because the site was smaller than expected. My surgery was done 2 months after the initial diagnosis, with 10 lymph nodes removed for biopsy (which were negative). Surgery was performed on March 9th 2004 and I was released from hospital March 11th, with drain tubes intact, meaning they were still attached to my body. I had to care for that area as well as the surgery site during the first part of my recovery. I received radiation, rather than chemo, for 36 weeks. Even during and after the radiation treatments I had an accumulation of fluid at the surgery site that had to be aspirated in the office. That was a little scary, having just gone through everything to have another lump appear, but thankfully it was just fluid.
What support did you have throughout this ordeal and what support do you continue to have, if any?
I had spiritual and moral support from my immediate family, children, brother and sister-in-law. My sister-in-law happily accompanied me to my follow-up appointments. She was a God-send because she acted as a second set of ears for me. The oncology nurse practitioner was one of two that coordinated a cancer support group in my area and encouraged me to attend the meetings. As part of that group we started out in one small room and soon had to move to a bigger facility and eventually, an even larger one! Anyone can attend the meetings, survivors and caregivers, current patients-anyone interested in getting information about cancer. All types of cancers are covered, not just breast cancer. We even have some gentlemen that attend. An "I Can Cope" event is held each October with guest speakers that touch on all phases of cancer treatments, programs available, financial concerns, as well as other programs and events in the area.
I would encourage anyone to search out a support group to attend if only to just listen to others. Besides being able to get more up to date information, you end up with some very good friends. It is a plus to be able to actually get out with others, especially others that know what each of us have been, or are going through.
My mom is a fighter, and through this has discovered the amount of fight she has in her. I'm happy we moved back to NYS in time for me to be there for her, even though I wasn't there as much as I wanted to be. I'm very proud of who my mom has become as a result of all of this hardship.
I wanted to post this interview because I believe hearing positive stories about the outcomes of this fight is important, plants a seed that the fight is worth it, even though it may be difficult. I hope and pray a cure can be found for breast cancer and all cancers, but also believe knowledge is so important. Please arm yourself with knowledge and support if this is something you ever have to go through personally or are affected by it in some way, and remember it's worth the fight!
Come on over to my blog to read my post sharing my side of her experience! Http://Momistheonlygirl.blogspot.com