Patient Supporters- Their Stories

I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in January of 2016. My annual mammogram which I pushed off by 6 months was in December of 2015. The mammogram showed something that the doctors wanted a closer look at so I had an ultra sound and then a breast biopsy. Just after the New Year in 2016 I got a call from my doctor telling me I had breast cancer.

I was overwhelmed, and nervous about how I would tell my mother and other family members. I also thought about what would this mean for me? For my future? I had plans! I wanted to travel! I was 18 months into a great workout program that I really enjoyed. Would I have to quit? What in the world was I going to do? There were a lot of questions running through my mind and as I told others they had questions as well. I didn’t have a lot of answers.

I found a great team of doctors and I made a decision to have a double mastectomy. I had stage 1 cancer in one breast and stage 2 cancer in the other. I just wanted to remove both breasts and be done. I choose to have reconstruction surgery at the same time as the mastectomy. I did not want implants.

Surgery was on Feb 2, 2016. Everything went very well. I started chemotherapy in March of 2016 which caused me to lose my hair. I am a physical education teacher and I decided to have some fun, so when returning to work after the surgery, but before I lost my hair, I had the words Savage Beast shaved into the sides of my head. The kids went wild over it. Two weeks into chemo I lost my hair. I found the cutest caps to wear and even embraced my bald head at times.

I found strength in those that helped me with meals, shared encouragement with calls, cards, and videos. When all was said and done, the doors in my house were all covered with well wishes from family and friends. Friends organized a “pink” day where everyone wore pink and they sent me pictures of themselves in PINK! My husband’s track team wore pink headbands during one of their track meets.

After chemo I started taking Tamoxifen and stayed on that till 2018 when I switched to Anastrozle and I am still on that today.

It is now 2019, and I am three years cancer free, back to my workouts. I am stronger, braver, more motivated than ever before. I am constantly looking for ways to pay it forward for all the different ways people pitched in to help me out and support me during my battle. During each check up I make sure I make my rounds in the chemo center and talk with those getting chemo, listen to their stories, share experiences and give reassurances when I can. I love to pass out my peppermints and make new friends.

Research for breast cancer is so important to continually advance the progression of treatments and to find a cure. I feel that they have come a long way with all the types of treatments and care, but there still is so much more to learn, and discover.

My advice for all women is to be proactive, stay up to date with all your screenings, and try not to put them off. Take care of yourself, workout, eat healthy, and be good to yourself, your body. You are worth it!

I used to use this quote a lot, “I know no one is coming to save me, I must save myself, but I am open to a side kick”. I could not have done as well as I did without my husband, my mom, my doctors, research and all the other sidekicks! Sidekicks were my silver lining.