“Don’t put off having your yearly check-ups. Lean on your Faith, Family and Friends – they are ALL there for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially of the doctors and nurses in the radiation field. I never knew these people could be so wonderful. The people I met, were understanding and willing to help me and my Dad in anyway. So don’t be afraid, to turn to others!”
I was diagnosed with Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma, Stage 1 border line. I was Estrogen Positive, so I was put on a hormone blocker. I used a Generic form of Tomaxifin. My cancer was Hormone receptive and fed Off of the Estrogen. I had two Lumpectomy surgeries.. The first one, to remove what the doctor said were micro calcifications that will form cancer if they start moving into groups. They found that I already had cancer and the first surgery did not have clear margins. So I had to go back and have a second surgery. After the second surgery, the Doctor had clear margins. My stage 1 cancer was almost on the line to being stage two. My doctor said, he usually doesn’t recommend chemo on stage 1. But because it was so close, I could choose to take chemo. I went only with radiation only. I started with Monday through Friday for 5 weeks. The radiation pointing cross ways and across my breast for about 10 seconds each, North to South, then South to North. My sons, Dustin Haywood and Douglas Byars were great! Both were willing to help me in any way! I appreciate them so much! My oldest son Dustin, was going to take off work to take me every day and willing to drive 120 miles round trip each day to take me. I knew what a burden that would be. My parents lived the closest to North Point Cancer and they badly wanted me to stay with them. As I said before, my dad Glenn Morrison, took me every day and every day. When I got home, both him and my mom Mary Morrison, took care of me. And being at home with Mom’s old fashion cooking, can do wonders for anyone. I love my family, so much! Thank you to them and all the friends, that were there. You all make the difference!
When and how did you learn that you had breast cancer?
I had my yearly mammogram about June 2009. I was called back in for another set of films. The radiologist showed me very small micro calcifications in the x-ray. He said that when he compared the x-rays with my scans from the year before, it showed that the micro calcifications had moved a little. He explained that when they start gathering together, they will eventually turn into cancer. I was set up with a surgeon to take out a spot about the size of a quarter. I had this procedure done, so I wouldn’t have to worry about it turning into cancer. I went back 10 days later to be released to go back to work. He told me that I had cancer and would need to go back in to remove the rest of it.
Did you know much about breast cancer when you were diagnosed? Did you have a family history of the disease?
I did not know a lot about breast cancer. At the time, I didn’t know of anyone on my Mother’s side or Father’s side having had it. But I did find out that my father’s sister did have breast cancer. She was 86 at the time; she just had her second breast removed due to breast cancer. She had the first one removed, when she was about 71.
How involved was your treatment?
The doctor said my stage of breast cancer was border line – I should take radiation, and I could take chemotherapy, also if I wanted. I didn’t want to do either one. My sister-in-law’s mother had breast cancer and was having problems now, with her heart as a result of the radiation. I didn’t believe in the chemotherapy, so I did not want to have it. I did the radiation for six weeks. The first five weeks radiation was done at an angle, so that it would (hopefully) not cook anything on the inside. The final week, it was pointed straight down into my body.
What were the most important factors that help you through treatment and recovery?
My Family! I didn’t want to tell them, because I didn’t want them to worry. But I knew that wasn’t fair to them, or to me. I also didn’t want them to see me cry and I handled this wrong, too I think. We should have been crying together. My parents wanted me to stay with them. They lived closer to where I was having my treatments. Seeing me every day helped them see, I was OK. Even though I was allowed to drive, my daddy 84 years old, drove me. He stayed with me, while I had my radiation treatments each day.
What did you learn about yourself as you went through this difficult experience?
I think it reminds us of the strength, we have deep inside. I also felt that someone High above was looking out for me. I had no lumps, no symptoms of any kind. My cancer was found in the early stages, as if by accident. You do have to come to terms with it, when you first find out . When the word CANCER is first said, you think of a long hard battle, sickness, and death. I know I had some friends that were hurt, because I didn’t tell them right away. I had to study it and come to terms with it, before I could talk about it. I imagine, we all handle it differently. I think most find strength deep inside and draw strength from all the wonderful friends and family who are there for you.
How do you feel today? How has your life changed since facing this disease?
I feel fine at this time. It has been 2 ½ years, since my second surgery. They say you are considered cancer-free, if it does not return in the first five years. So far, my scans have looked good to the doctor. I think I appreciate what I do have and what I know now. I need to make the most of my life and do things that I like. You never really know how long you will be here on this earth.