I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January, 2017. I actually found out at a follow-up appointment following surgery for what they thought was just removal of ADH (atypical ductal hyperplasia. To say that I was terrified is an understatement, but thankfully after meeting with my Radiation Oncologist a few days later, I felt better to at least have a plan of attack in place for treatment.
I went through 6 ½ weeks of radiation treatments, going every day except for the weekends. While the actual radiation treatments themselves were rather quick, it was time consuming, as it was a 30 minute drive each way, and I was trying to coordinate treatment times around my daughter’s school schedule. The last 2 ½ weeks became extremely difficult, as I suffered a severe radiation burn, making it difficult to even wear a shirt. On top of dealing with the physical pain, I also dealt with the mental and emotional pain of all that I was going through, and worrying about making sure my teenage daughter was doing ok as well.
I lost friends during this time, which was painful, but strengthened other relationships. Once radiation was complete, I began taking Tamoxifen, which I will be on for minimally 5 years. While I am grateful that this drug will likely help keep the cancer from returning, it comes with some very unpleasant side effects that remind me daily of what I went through. I am almost two years post cancer diagnosis, and while I am doing very well now, it is still always in the back of my mind. Every mammogram and MRI that I have brings along a lot of anxiety and fears, as I wonder if I will get clean results. I worry for my daughter, as she now at a greater risk of getting cancer because of me. But like I did when I began treatments, I approach each day as a fighter, and with hope and positivity. I refuse to let cancer define who I am, it is just a chapter in my life, not the whole book. I am lucky, I know things could have been a lot worse. I have met such incredibly strong and brave women along my journey, and while I never wanted to be in this sisterhood, I am so very proud of all those I walk this journey with.
I will continue to advocate for awareness, as early detection is key…and I will continue to fight for research so that we can find a cure for metastatic breast cancer, so that women can stop dying from this dreaded disease.