I’m a 43 year old single mom to two teenage boys. I was diagnosed on 9/14/2010 with breast cancer – IDC. I had found a lump, which turned out to be cyst. The cancer was hiding behind that cyst. I was in no way ready to deal with this medical horror. In late 2009, I left an abusive marriage of 20 years, leaving with my two sons, two suitcases, and $500 in my pocket. Nothing else. I found a job, settled into our new life and try to make our home a happy one. I lost my adoptive mother to leukemia on 3/8/2010. Then, just as things were settling down, I found the lump.
After discovery of a second tumor in the same breast, my surgeon told me I had to have a mastectomy on my left side. I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy. I did NOT want to live my life waiting for the right breast to be attacked. After surgery, my first question was “lymph nodes?” Thankfully, the cancer was contained. No further treatment was necessary.
I suffered with infections, and skin issues over the next few months, landing in the hospital once, and on many antibiotics for months. I had my swap out surgery for tissue expanders to implants on 4/21/2011; and a revision on 9/29/2011. I am now completely finished with my cancer journey. I have ONE thing left…I am tattooing flowers/vines on my new breasts – I didn’t undergo nipple reconstruction.
My silver lining…I’ve learned so many lessons along my way. I’ve met so many wonderful people. I’ve learned life is short. Don’t spend time worrying about the little things. I hug my children every day (which is something I did before the cancer diagnosis…now they get NUMEROUS hugs on a daily basis). I tell people “I love you”. I never go to bed angry. I’ve learned how “virtual” friends can be so supportive, you wonder how you’d make it through without them. I’ve learned I’m much stronger than I ever imagined. I appreciate the little things in life…even more so than before. While not of the mindset that sees cancer as a “gift”, it did open my eyes.
And in the end…and most importantly, I’ve learned breasts do not define me. I am ME. I am STRONG. I can beat ANYTHING.