On the eve of my 46th birthday in 2006, I felt a lump in my right breast the size of a marble. The next day, my birthday, I had a mammogram that did not show the lump that I could feel. An ultrasound shortly thereafter confirmed two separate sites that the radiologist could not identify. Within one week I had a biopsy and the test results indicated that both locations were cancerous. I was speechless, which is unusual for me. My mother had had a lumpectomy years ago that now seemed surreal and so far away. The thought of me having breast cancer had never occurred to me.
Before surgery I was allowed to travel to China and Tibet on a vacation that had been planned for the previous year. When I returned, I went through surgery, chemotherapy and finally radiation. By far, chemotherapy was the worst thing I experienced. Two drugs, Adriamycin and Cytoxan, assaulted each of my senses. Four times, I sat for four hours while two separate poisons were injected into my body. My hair loss was the visible reality of what was happening inside.
I had my team of angels that carried me through my chemotherapy. Carol was with me through every treatment and every minute thereafter. A photographer in her spare time, she captured my image of baldness and strength. My mother, who has loved and supported me since the day I was born, made me fruit plates and gave me hugs every day. My father bought me turtle Sundays and went through lists of my favorite foods to cook or bake to keep me eating through my nausea. My sister, Susie, would go grocery shopping for me and gave me more great hugs. My nephew, Josh, cut my grass every week. Kathy checked in on me daily to see if there was anything she could do and Patt took me to pick up my first wig when I could barely hold my head up. These were my angels I carried on my shoulders that gave me my strength.
p>I received hundreds of cards, phone calls, and prayers. The sicker I got, the more I received. I never said, “Why Me?” I said, “I am strong, I can do this, bring it on.” Since first being diagnosed I have heard so many incredible stories of courage that I am moved to tears. To all of my sisters out there I say, “You go girls!” My life has been, and continues to be, sweet. I cherish every moment of every day. It is an honor for me to stand side by side with the women and men who have walked this path before me and say–I too am a survivor!