This is not the usual type of post for this blog but hey…it is what was on my mind for the last couple of weeks!
Breast cancer…those two words put fear into the heart of many a woman and even some men (yes, men can get breast cancer too). I can still remember the terror that I felt on that December day in 2001 when my surgeon called to tell me that my biopsy was cancerous. The “C” word just seems so final when you are diagnosed with this disease. First came the tears. Hubby and I cried together and vowed that we would get through this together but I was so scared and still felt so alone. As the days wore on, I started to research the disease while I waited for the operation to take place. Two of the best sites on the internet for information are BreastCancer.org and the Susan B Komen site but there are more. In my case, as I learned more about the disease, some (not all) of the fear began to subside.
During the time that I was waiting for my second operation (because I didn’t have clear margins with the first operation), I armed myself with even more information. I was on the internet constantly and I bought a couple of books. One was “Breast Cancer Survival Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide for the Woman With Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer” by John Link and the other was Dr. Susan Love’s “Breast Book“. The first book turned out to be the one that helped the most during those first terrible weeks. At the end of the book, Link writes, “You should know that most women today are cured of breast cancer. They undergo treatment, become survivors, and go on with their lives“. Dr. Love’s book, while a lot harder to read because it is more technical, also was encouraging. Armed with the knowledge that I gained from all of my research, I was able to discuss my treatments with my doctors and even make choices based on knowledge that I had gained.
At the end of January, I celebrated my seventh year as a breast cancer survivor. You may notice that I didn’t post this at the end of January though. I had my annual mammogram and then a checkup by my oncologist complete with blood tests. Everything looked fine except for some redness that couldn’t be explained. My stomach dropped and the “scariness” began again. She said that she was sure it was nothing but maybe I should see the surgeon to see what she thought. I am happy (or so very happy) to say that the surgeon did a biopsy and called yesterday to say that everything is fine!
FDR said that there was nothing to fear but fear itself. How true! From the time that the redness was discovered until the day that the doctor called to tell me that all was fine, I had started to feel that fear again. It would have been easier to just bury my head in the sand and not go for the biopsy since there were no lumps and the blood tests were fine. However, the not knowing is sometimes worse than knowing. In my case, at least this time, all was fine.
The point of this post is to remind folks that early detection by the use of self-breast exams and mammograms saves lives. If you find a lump, try not to panic (easier said than done)—but most lumps are benign. If the unthinkable happens and it turns out to be cancer, remember that early detection makes the prognosis much more in your favor. For more and more us, thanks to the technology today, THERE IS LIFE AFTER BREAST CANCER!!