I AM NOT WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME. I AM WHAT I CHOOSE TO BECOME. ~ CARL JUNG
I have been contemplating for quite some time to write about my journey. You see, I am a Breast Cancer SURVIVOR. While I have no problem talking about it to friends and family, I haven’t quite gotten around to writing about it. Not sure why. It has been suggested to me by several people. My friends, family, and team of doctors have all noted what a “great attitude” I have towards my diagnosis. There are tears, although not many. There are ups and downs. There is sadness, guilt, humor, frustration, and triumphs all rolled up in one. So, here we go…….
I have never been one to do my self breast exams. It’s kinda like going to the dentist….they always ask “have you been flossing?” Usually the dentist asks this while they have their hands in your mouth which is good because you can mumble through the buzzing and slurping noises and tell the lie that you have been while in your mind you promise to start doing it just as soon as you leave. Same thing. Yet…at 17 I found a lump in my right breast. I went to my doctor and they did a mammogram which is surprising because now it is so frowned upon for anyone younger than 40. I was told it was just a small density and not to worry. Fast forward 18 yrs….My super awesome best ever gyno (Miss Bernie Price) suggested I get a routine Mammo at the age of 35 as a baseline. You see, I was rather large breasted – 42DD. The Mammo came back fine. Just a small density …. stay away from caffeine, wear a supportive bra, and you will be ok they told me. Now go forward again….5 more years. I’m the big 4-0…40 yrs old..whew! (but then 40 is the new 30 right??)… I go for my routine mammo. This time I am called back. I’m told I need an ultrasound along with further pictures. Hmmmm…..ok. I go back to this wonderful place, the Breast Care Center at St. Anthony Hospital. They are calm, caring and very gentle (as gentle as you can be cramming a 42DD boob in that darn machine, lol). Done. I’m told I have several densities in both my breasts but mainly the right breast however, this is nothing to worry about come back in a year. Ok…I am filled with surprise, questions, …..fear.
You see, I told you this was the beginning. I kept hearing a voice in my head. It was the voice of a wonderful woman I was blessed and privileged to know back years ago as a teenager. I had this best friend, Linc Bradley. Well, still have. I used to spend lots of time with him…we did everything together. I would stay the night at his house on weekends to help with his paper-route. His mom, the lovely and ever so classy, Saundra….may she rest in peace. She had two sons and I was like a play daughter of sorts. She was a histologist at Methodist Hospital. She had said to me once, “always do your self breast exams and make sure you ALWAYS get your mammograms once you come of age. You are a large breasted young woman. Make sure you do it.” The words have always stuck with me for some reason and now, at this moment, at this time…they flew around in my head. A whirlwind of words, concern, emotions. But, it’s ok, right? Nothing to worry about. These are professionals that perform these mammo’s daily hundreds of times….right? I’m only 40. I’m in relative good health. My Boobs feel fine. Ache sometimes but ok….right? I don’t feel any lumps, I don’t have any of the typical symptoms. I’m fine. Nothing to worry about. I have to many other things going on, not breast cancer, of course not. I’m fine. I don’t have time for that. Right?
And so, another year goes by.