I was diagnosed in 2004 with Ductal Carcinoma In-situ at the age of 50. At 63 years young, September will mark my 13th anniversary of becoming a Breast Cancer Survivor.
Breast Cancer was my second encounter with the BIG “C”. Back in 1985, at the age of 31, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. As my doctor told me, I was fortunate to have the “best cancer” I could get. At the time, this type of cancer had a survival rate of over 95%. I went through a heavy series of treatments, but after 5 years, I was told that I was cancer free!
Since the age of 31, I made sure to comply with all exams and tests recommended by my doctors. Part of my commitment to staying healthy was a warning my doctors gave me during my treatment for Hodgkin’s disease. I was cautioned that my chances of having cancer in the future were 3 times greater because of the exposure I had during treatment. They were right; almost 20 years later I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
I was lucky to detect my breast cancer through a simple, yearly mammogram; an exam I recommend to all women. This “unwelcomed guest” and I went through the whole nine yards. I underwent a lumpectomy on my left breast. However, follow up tests showed the sentinel lymph node came back positive and a mastectomy was necessary. My medical oncologist recommended a prophylactic mastectomy, in part because of my medical history and also due to a cluster of aggressive cancer cells that were discovered.
During the long road to recovery, it was very important to live my “new normal” as best as possible. For me, this meant waking up early in the morning, getting nicely dressed, putting on lipstick and getting in the mindset of a warrior. I have no doubt, attitude is everything!
Being a cancer survivor means that somehow I was “chosen” to face this tough experience, which made me strong and capable to confront even more difficult challenges; for example the death of my only son, Robert. He was my reason to fight. I knew I had to beat the cancer monster to be healthy for my son. Unfortunately, my Robert passed 4 ½ years after my diagnosis in a motorcycle accident at the age of 21. Being faced with such unexpected and horrifying experience, taught me that anything is insignificant compared to the loss of my dear son.
I am convinced that my mission on earth is twofold, first – to help other ladies who are challenged with this mutilating disease and second to help heartbroken mothers who have lost their children. This is not an easy task but I try to help the best I can. I consider myself a “Rebel with a Cause.” I am more than a pair of breasts and I will keep on fighting!