Through the Eyes of a Breast Cancer Survivor

Breast cancer survivor I, like so many other women, am a breast cancer survivor. I dedicate this blog to all those women before me, who did and didn’t survive; all networking with one another to help find a cure.

I remember the surreal moment I found out my diagnosis. I had put off having my mammogram for 3 years and for no particular reason, other than just didn’t put my health at the top of the list of my priorities. The X-ray Tech., whom I knew from all my years having had my annual mammograms done there, had a look on her face that told me I should be concerned.I went home, called my best friend who had gone through breast cancer a few yrs prior and asked for her help in directing me to the people I needed to see.

I ended up going to a Cancer Care Alliance in a large city nearby. This in itself, was a challenge long-term, secondary to having to book places to stay before or after procedures, but in the big picture, doable. Like most women in this situation, you have many tests done, as well as surgeries. I was fortunate in that my cancer was early stage invasive but presented as micro-calcifications throughout the breast tissue, which made for numerous surgeries without the best results and with a final decision to do a mastectomy.

Throughout this process, I was fortunate to have support from many people, wonderful websites with phenomenal information and a few vacations that kept my mind on living and not my illness. I continued to work full-time which really helped me focus post surgeries in getting up and moving on. I did have a procedure post mastectomy in which my abdominal fat pack was transferred, along with attached vessels to mastectomy site where vessels from abdomen and chest were sewn together and a breast formed out of the fat pack. Several months later, it was obvious it had failed secondary to the transferred fat calcifying. Another big setback, but knowing that you’re cancer free, was still the overall reward.

A year later, the state’s university medical center sponsored a new study in which external expansion was used in addition to liposuction and fat cell transfer to the mastectomy site. All in all, when done, everything you’re left with is your tissue and nothing foreign; a very important choice for me as my cancer was caused by something in the environment (no genetic or hormone affiliation). In summary, I was the first one in the study which went on for approx 1 yr. and was very happy with the overall results. I still have the finishing touches to go but grateful to be on the homestretch as well as happy that at almost 4 yrs out, still cancer free.

As I look back, I’m so thankful for my best friend’s help as well as help from other women through networking. Ladies, you’re phenomenal in sharing so much, just so that the next person has a better chance. I know how easy it is for women to fall into the position of not putting their own health first, especially those with families of their own, whose needs typically come first. Not that this is a bad thing, but it is more so a reality than not. Being the New Year and all, please promise yourself that ya’ll will have recommended preventative tests this year. If no insurance, don’t worry as there are free screening events put on by medical facilities in most communities throughout the year. Just put out the effort to call related medicalĀ  facilities to find out and/or watch your local papers.

 

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