"There are some things, that I feel every woman should consider. Listen to your gut instinct. If you do not get the answer you want and your gut tells you different, get a second opinion. I did! Get your mammogram every year!"
In the year 2005, my doctor said I did not need to go get a mammogram. I was under 50 and could probably go every other year. That was in April, around November, I thought I felt something, well it was the holidays and working at Kroger, I was very busy. By January I definitely felt a lump. I kind of put it off a little longer to February. I decided to listen to my gut feeling. The day of my mammogram, I didn’t think too much about it, but I still had that feeling. The day of my mammogram, they told me they would need an ultra sound and took me right away to have it done. Lying on the table when the doctor came in to see the ultra sound, they said they were concerned about what they were seeing. They showed me the picture of where there was a lump, but it also had a 4 satellite like tentacles from the lump and I would need a needle biopsy done right away. Then they asked when they could schedule it. It hit me right then that this was cancer. As much as they said that they would had to test it. I knew what the results would be. Once again, I had that gut feeling. It was very scary right at that moment! No one was there with me, after all it was just a test. I could not fight back the tears. Driving home I called my best friend and told the story to her. Crying as I was driving was probably not the best thing to do, but I made it home. I had the tests run and yes here was stage 2 breast cancer. O.K. What do you do? I went to the surgeon like suggested, but had that gut feeling about him. I did not like the doctor. One of my husband’s owners gave him his sisters’ name, that also had breast cancer and I called and spoke with her. I was so blessed, that she came into my life. She listened to what happened and gave me the name of her doctor. I then went to the Baylor Breast Center Clinic. This place was great! I also had the opportunity to get in a clinical trial for chemotherapy treatment. My cancer was a grade 3 which was not very encouraging and it was in my lymph nodes. I also had negative receptors this meant I could not do any kind of tamoxafin for after treatment. There are some things that I feel every women should consider. Be straight forward with your family. They are going through this too and your communication will help everyone to understand, you and them. I wanted to help find different ways to benefit other patients with getting better treatments. After treatment I made a decision to give back to others that are going through this disease. I joined Reach to Recovery, Stephen ministries for spiritual and was honored to be asked to represent Kroger on Giving Hope a Hand. I shared my story on the blog and was on the Special K box. This was an avenue for others to communicate with me and ask questions. I am honored when I can help others who are going through this journey. If you get the opportunity to enter a clinical trial, do it! Research allows us to get closer to finding a cure! Use all resources available to you. Have a support system you need the help and you need to take care of you. There are organizations to help with medicine and care. Research information for government assistance programs to help with expenses and treatments, utilize them! Many women do not know, where to find information and do not get the treatments they need, because of financial difficulties. Find a support group or person that has experienced it, so you have someone to talk to. Long story short, I am now a 6 year cancer free survivor! I have the best medical team that was kind, informative and innovative with my treatment. You will have continued care after treatment. There are many side effects from therapy and need to keep healthy. Live life Healthy and enjoy healthy foods, friends and family. Stay healthy!!
When and how did you learn that you had breast cancer?
I discovered it myself through self-examination. That was in 2006. That was in 2006. I went to see my doctor and she ordered a mammogram, that day. They did a ultra-sound and asked to schedule a needle biopsy. When the results came back, I was told over the phone that I it was breast cancer.
Did you know much about breast cancer when you were diagnosed? Did you have a family history of the disease?
I knew nothing about breast cancer and no one in my family has had it.
How involved was your treatment?
I had treatment every 3 weeks for 6 months of TAC. That is 3 different kinds of chemo. I did not do any radiation. I had a mastectomy and reconstruction on the left breast. I could not take tamoxafin after treatment, because my cancer had negative receptors that do not respond to that medication.
What were the most important factors that help you through treatment and recovery?
A great doctor, Dr. Jenny Chang. A supportive and loving family. Great friends and coworkers. A very supporting company Kroger that understood and supported me. Most of all a very positive outlook on life.
What did you learn about yourself as you went through this difficult experience?
Not to worry about the little things. To enjoy each day and find the good things that happen each day. Do not take anything for granted. Tell the people you love, that you love them. Say it often!