Seven years ago, in October, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was more than just a shock. No one in my family had ever had it. I’ve done my genealogy back many generations and have lots of ’cause of death’ information. There was a death by Indians in colonial Massachusetts, a death by dysentery at Andersonville Prison, and many deaths due to old, old age – but never breast cancer.
I took advantage of the Mammovan that visited the school where I was teaching. Because it was convenient, I made an appointment. I had always been told that my chances of getting breast cancer were slim because of lifestyle and family background. When I got a call to come for a re-check, I was more annoyed than concerned because the required hospital was about 35 miles away. It was my first biopsy. Hurt like hell but I still wasn’t concerned.
Then I got the call that everyone dreads. Stage 0. Lumpectomy and radiation. Why me? But as it turned out, it was a minor inconvenience and if you’re going to get cancer, Stage 0 is very good news. After that I got mammograms every six months for the next 2 years.
Many women avoid mammograms because they aren’t pleasant. Neither are a lot of things we go through but they serve an important purpose. For me, it was finding cancer so early that it was only Stage 0.
So I went for my exams faithfully just waiting for the 2 year period to be over. That was October, five years ago. It was my last exam I was excited to finally be able to return to “back to normal”. But I got the call to come back for another biopsy. A recurrence. This time it was only Stage 1.
Five years ago I made the decision a lot of women are now making. Surgery. Cancer was not going to beat me.
October is an important month for me. I was diagnosed twice in October. This October marks that I am FIVE YEARS clean. I am truly “back to normal”.
This is not a sob, woe-is-me story. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ladies, please get checked. Do it for you and do it for your family. A simple mammogram saved my life.