I went in for a routine mammogram and got a call to come back for an ultrasound, and then a biopsy. That showed it was cancer. It was Stage l, very small. I felt angry, confused. You do a lot of crying, a lot of thinking. I was 68 years old; I can’t imagine some of these women in their 30s and 40s going through this. I decided to have a lumpectomy and radiation.
I had all my care in Northfield. The radiation caused burns, which happens sometimes. I used vinegar water and salves to treat the burns. There is still some pain from it. The women at the radiation center are great; they treat you like a person, not a number. It helps when people have compassion when you’re hurting. My husband was wonderful, helping me treat the burns and caring for me.
Now I have routine mammograms and see the oncologist every year instead of every three months. That felt like a milestone; I was very happy when Dr. Dalton said that. When I have a mammogram, I’m in bad shape from the week before until I hear the results, because I’m so afraid it’s going to show up again. I see the world differently now. Things that used to be really important aren’t anymore. I don’t think about money anymore like I used to. I’ve always been very close to my grandkids; now I put them way before money or other things. If you’ve had a health problem, you learn to understand other people better. You give more compassion because you’ve been there, you know what it’s like. You’re thankful you made out as well as you did. It was a hard experience, but it’s behind me now and I hope that’s where it stays.
My advice? Do not skip your mammograms. If you have to skip something, make it something else. I really believe in yearly mammograms; I make my 46-year-old daughter go, too.
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