My Story: Woman’s Best Friend
I look at life a little different now. I don’t sweat the small stuff and I try to pay attention to the important things in my life. I have strong faith and the belief that things come into your life for a reason, like the puppy I picked from a litter of eight.
In late October 2012, while I was watching a football game, my son’s dog Lexie jumped on the couch with me to rest. On her way up she happened to step on my right breast. I wasn’t too happy about it because she weighs about 25 pounds. The next day I noticed that my breast was quite bruised and was alarmed because not only was I bruised but also I had a very small dimple on the bruise that I hadn’t noticed before.
I checked for a lump and couldn’t detect anything, so on the computer I went, Googling like crazy. I learned that a dimple on the breast can be caused from trauma but can also mean breast cancer. I waited about 2 weeks. The bruise went away but the dimple did not. It was very hard to see and I could only see it if my breast was positioned a certain way. I booked an appointment with my doctor right away. He also could not detect a lump and said it’s probably from the bruising and trauma but that it could be a sign of breast cancer.
I freaked out. At 46 I had no real personal or family history of breast cancer or any cancer for that matter. I was always looking for new health tips and new natural ways to protect myself from illness and yet this happened! My doctor sent me for a mammogram immediately. When I got to the mammography clinic, I showed the technician the dimple. She said, “Oh my, that’s nothing to worry about. It’s just the normal crease of your breast.” I said, “Well, I won’t be here very long then, will I?”
The rest is history. I went from that mammogram to another diagnostic mammogram and then an ultrasound. I prodded the technician to tell me if there was something there. She finally said, “Yes,” and that my doctor would be in touch and perhaps want another image. I remember looking at the screen and seeing the letters “SCG.” I immediately knew it meant “suspected cancer growth.” My doctor phoned me that night and confirmed that they were about 90 percent sure it was cancer.
I was supposed to have a lumpectomy, but on the day of my surgery the radiologist said there was another area on the breast MRI he had concerns about. He said he wanted me to follow up about it after the lumpectomy. After asking a million questions, I called the surgeon that was to do my surgery and asked her opinion. She said the radiologist was an expert in his field. So I decided to have a mastectomy later that day.
So off to the hospital I went. I remember thinking, “This is so wrong. I don’t feel sick. I’m a healthy woman. I have always tried hard to look after my health, but in a few minutes they are going to remove my right breast.” As they wheeled me down the hospital corridor to the operating room, I stared at the ceiling and thought, “Please wake me up. This is a nightmare. This can’t be happening.” Well, happen it did.
About 10 days later my surgeon called with the results: The margins were clear and one lymph node tested positive for cancer. She was sure she got it all. She said to give that dog some extra love for helping me find the cancer early. I met with my oncologist and he did more tests to make sure the cancer hadn’t metastasized. I had a CT scan and a bone scan: Both were clear. I went on to have chemotherapy and radiation. In September 2014 I had a TRAM flap reconstruction to my right breast. I feel that the surgery, though very intense, was well worth it.
You know, many people ask, “Why me?” after they are diagnosed. Believe me, I went through a very “feel sorry for me” period. But I was so very blessed to have a wonderful, supportive husband, son and daughter who were there for me every step of the way. My friends were awesome, as were my employer and co-workers. I returned to work full-time and the mammogram I had last May was clean.
I look at life a little different now. I don’t sweat the small stuff and I try to pay attention to the important things in my life. I have strong faith and the belief that things come into your life for a reason, like the puppy I picked from a litter of eight. I got the puppy for my son, Michael, but I think she was meant for me.