Swimming Thru Cancer..the Journey Begins

When I turned 40 in 2012, my doctor told me I should have a baseline mammogram done. Since there was no cancer in my family and for a couple of others reason, I put it off. When I saw my doctor for my routine check up in October of that year, no lumps or anything of concern were found, but she reminded me it would be a good idea to get that mammogram “just because.” On October 9, I had one. I believe God put the idea in my head to go because He knew what news the next several weeks would bring. The day after the first mammogram, my doctor called and told me I needed another mammogram because they found “suspicious cells.” I was told it was probably nothing they just wanted to take a closer look. Two days later, I went for the second mammogram. The cells they found were faint, but indeed suspicious so the radiologist recommended a biopsy. Leaving the appointment, I was told it was probably nothing and they just wanted to be sure.

After meeting with a surgeon, I had my first biopsy. Although the results came back with “no malignancy found,” the surgeon said there were abnormal cells and she wanted to perform a wire/open biopsy to take a closer look. The second biopsy took place less than two weeks later. Again, I was told it was probably nothing but she just wanted to be sure. On November 8, the surgeon called and our lives were forever changed: I had ductile carcinoma in situ or DCIS: a Stage 0 breast cancer. She assured me I would be ok and we’d talk more at my follow up visit from the 2nd biopsy. At that visit, she said the cancer was receptive to hormone therapy and did not require chemo… Both good things. Unfortunately, because there were several other issues, abnormal cells, and cells that have the potential to turn into cancer, my surgeon recommended a mastectomy of my right breast. My husband and I were in shock. How could Stage 0 cancer require such “drastic” measures? The more we talked, the more we researched, the more we prayed, we agreed my surgeon’s suggestion was really the only course of treatment that made sense and would give me the best chance for survival.

Surgery was scheduled for December 5 and I went for an MRI the day after Thanksgiving. That following Monday, I was told something was now found on the left breast and needed to have an ultrasound. Great, it’s just kept getting worse with every test I was taking!! Luckily, the results came back that there was nothing suspicious in the left breast. A sigh of relief! The following week we met with a plastic surgeon to discuss the options and then my surgeon to discuss my upcoming surgery. Because I had a higher risk of developing breast cancer in the left breast and for a few other reasons, we decided that a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction was the best route to go.

December 5th came and it was a day I will never forget as long as I live. Some of the procedures I had to endure before the surgery were so horrifically painful, I remember my dad saying he was on his way back from the bathroom during one of them and he heard my screams of agony. I still shiver when I think of that.

During my surgery, they removed a couple of lymph nodes and tested them. They came back negative which meant I would not need chemo. Praise God.

I had two more surgeries after my mastectomy to put "Humpty Dumpty" back together again, one in March and one in September, 2013.

So that's my story. Who knew that in less than 2 months, I went from living my life as I did every day to a 42 year old woman with breast cancer. I know God has a plan for all of this. Even though we have no idea what that plan is, it is our faith, our family and the love, prayers and support of our friends that will get us through the journey called cancer.

~Joy