My left breast needed to have a lumpectomy. Again, my doctor felt confident that this would take care of the cancer, and I would need to take tamoxifen to prevent it returning. As much as I didn’t want to undergo another procedure, this saga had to end. The procedure was scheduled for the week before my son’s third birthday.
Having breast cancer felt incredibly strange to me. In the mirror, I looked fine. I felt fine despite a bout of sinus infections that had arrived around the same time. But nothing felt like I had a cancer growing inside me, and that made it difficult to see the bright side of life.
At this point, I hadn’t told many people about my diagnosis. My family knew, but few others. I decided it was time to be open, to help educate others that mammograms weren’t just there to torture and make facilities rich. They had a purpose, and one had saved my life. I, especially, wanted my friends who also had disabilities to go get a mammogram. Many women with disabilities die because getting a mammogram is so troublesome. They needed to know that they weren’t invincible.
I felt overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of support I received. People were praying for me and thinking about me from all over the place. I received cards, flowers, and balloons. Around Valentine’s Day, my uncle drove to my house on a very cold day just to give me roses from him and my aunt. I felt so touched.
Most importantly, I heard from family and friends that they had scheduled their mammograms. One was my sister. Hers needed a second look but, thankfully, she didn’t have cancer. I plan to continue encouraging everyone to get mammograms. The earlier cancer is detected, the easier it is to eradicate cancer cells.
Life should allow a pause
As far as my daily life, everything continued even though I wished there was a pause button. My husband was still in nursing school, so I helped my daughter with homework, cared for my son, did housework and writing. Sometimes I felt like I didn’t have time to process. Whenever we did watch TV as a family and a cancer commercial came on, we were somber. These commercials didn’t mean a lot to us before, but now they meant everything. And, often at the end of the day, I’d collapse in bed, look at my husband and say: “I cannot believe that I have cancer!”
On the morning of my lumpectomy, a feeling of excitement washed over me. I wanted to get rid of it and couldn’t wait. My husband gave me a button-down shirt because they told me to wear one for making dressing easier. It was a very cold morning and we left early. The lumpectomy is an outpatient procedure, so I knew that I’d be back in a few hours.
Getting the lumpectomy went much smoother than the biopsy. I was familiar with the doctors and anesthesiologists. They remembered my increased heart rate after my biopsy and knew how to control it. Everyone seemed sad that I had to come back since they found cancer, but happy to help me now. Recovery afterward seemed so much easier.
I had bruising and a scar, but all that would fade. I felt a little sad that I had a scar, and my left breast was a bit deflated. However, the pain seemed far less than the biopsy. All we needed now were the results.
A few days later, my daughter had her first spelling bee on my son’s birthday. The next day after we had a big birthday party for him. Everyone told me they were surprised how I good I looked, and shocked that I didn’t postpone the party. It truly was an excellent weekend!
Tuesday after the party, my son went for a nap and I started my to-do list. Then the doctor called, but he didn’t sound happy. My heart sunk and my hands shook, as he told me the cancer wasn’t gone.
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