Dr. Ehresmann called me at work and said, “You’re not having a good day.” I was at the clinic within the hour; Dr. Ehresmann came in even though it was her day off because she knew my husband wouldn’t be with me.
I had a lumpectomy at Northfield Hospital. When Dr. Fulco got the results, he said, “We need to remove your left breast” and I said, “No, you’re going to do both.” I didn’t want to have to go through it again. I had chemotherapy in Northfield, and then radiation. They weren’t easy, but I got through them. On my first day back at work, I was in my office with two or three men and I pulled off my wig. They weren’t ready for that. But it’s a fact of life: I was bald. If I had to do it again, God forbid, I wouldn’t get a wig. I would be honest and upfront about the actual details of the experience.
It’s been five years now. Cancer has changed things for me. I have a better outlook. I don’t know if it was cancer or aging or some combination, but I am more positive now. I have softened. You realize life can be short, so have fun – and at the same time, respect people. Be kind. There have been so many people caring for me, if I can carry that out with somebody else, that’s what I want to do. I don’t think I was like that before. I take it seriously, and try to do better each day. I wear something pink every day, and I’ll do that forever – not to brag that I’m a breast cancer survivor, but to let people know I got through it.
My advice? Seek out someone who’s been through it who can guide you along. Be a strong advocate for yourself. If you think something’s wrong, go with that feeling; keep asking questions.