The physical and emotional impact of this disease is devastating – and I don’t want anyone else to have to discover that first hand. I thought participating as a 2007 Rare Chair Affair Survivor Artist would be a great way to increase awareness, to raise funds to fight for the future, and I thought it would be therapeutic during my healing process.
I tell everyone that I had good luck with my bad luck. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April of 2006. I was lucky to have two different types of breast cancer – and I mean that literally! I had one lump in my left breast, found during my annual mammogram. Later, during an ultrasound, 3 tiny spots were found at the base of my left breast. The 3 spots were so small that if it wasn’t for the larger lump they would not have been detected. Although there was no obvious sign of cancer in my right breast, they could not be sure it wasn’t there – that, combined with my family history, I made the decision to have a double mastectomy.
My mastectomy was followed by 4 months of chemotherapy. I had more fear of the chemo treatment then I did the actual surgery. I had watched my mother battle breast cancer and go through chemotherapy for 7 years until it finally took its toll on her – she passed away 2 years ago. But, I also found strength from her to go through with it. Until the very end she always stayed positive and did what she could to battle the disease. As much as I did not want to go through the treatments, I thought, if my mom could do this for 7 years, I could do it 4 times. I believe my mom is pretty darn proud of how I have handled the situation – she was the greatest role model for me and I hope I can pass that same strength on to other women and men.
I had no idea how hard the impact of my cancer would hit me after all the procedures and all the treatments were over. I guess you don’t have time to really think about it while all of that is going on. But once it is over, or you think it’s over, that’s when you realize it’s never over. I do my very best not to think about it, but the thought of recurrence is always hiding in the shadows. I don’t let it hold me back from continuing on with my wonderful life – in fact, I just make it a part of my life and deal with it openly. It makes me feel that I am in control of it.