I was diagnosed at age 38 with no risk factors at all. I had muscle pain under my breast, and during a self-exam I found something . . . a bump that felt like a frozen pea. Thinking it couldn’t possibly be anything, I decided to wait for my annual doctor appointment. At that appointment, the doctor sent me for a mammogram, which I hadn’t had before because I was not yet 40. That nothing turned out to be something, and that is where my cancer story began.
I chose to have a lumpectomy, followed by chemo from April through August. Those took place in Northfield. Radiation in September and October was my final step. I work in an elementary school and chose to work as much as I could, because it was very helpful to be surrounded by the positive energy there. It was a great distraction for me; it helped me feel a little more normal. I have always been a complete extrovert, but when I had cancer, I went within myself and became more of an introvert. I struggled to share all my feelings out loud, but I was able to completely spill my guts on my Caring Bridge site. Maybe that was because I didn’t have to see the worry in people’s eyes. That was always the hard part for me . . . seeing the worry. If those closest to me felt worried, then I was worried about their worry, and that was too much to take on. Like many, I lost all of my hair and chose to wear headscarves instead of a wig. I would walk down the supermarket aisle and think, “Everyone sees that I have no hair, and they know.” Cancer is such a public disease but so lonely at the same time. For a long time, I felt really isolated and lonely, because I took it on as my own battle to fight. People showed up to support me, but just like an athlete in a competition, it was hard to actually hear the cheering from the stands. For whatever reason, I didn’t really worry that I was going to die from this diagnosis. I just felt courageous, that I needed to get through it.
After a five-year relationship with my oncologist, we called it quits in May. Best. Breakup. Ever.
My advice? I’m a big proponent of self exams and knowing your body. It’s better to know early and get things taken care of. Treatment has come so far, even in the few years since I had it. You can have a lot of confidence in the research that’s been done and treatment options available.
For more information the the Breast Care Center, click HERE or call 507-646-1455.
For more inforamtion on Cancer Care or Infusions, click HERE or call 507-646-6979.