“You have breast cancer” were words I never thought I would hear in my life time.
There was no cancer in my family that I was aware of, yet at the tender age of 40 and a year into my marriage I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.
I remember hearing nothing after those words and thinking, am I going to die?
My mind went numb and my tears flowed like a torrential downpour of rain.
According to the American Cancer Society the cancer statistics for 2021 are 1,898,160 new cancer cases and 608,570 cancer deaths are projected to occur in the United States. The good news is cancer rates are on the decline from the years 1991-2018.
I was scared and immediately wanted to start researching everything I could. I would later find out that is not the best thing to do.
Being someone who wanted to always be in control of my life this was a very humbling experience.
The first step in the journey of my cancer diagnosis was weekly treatments of radiation to shrink the tumor. I went twice a week for several weeks. My skin turned red when I had the radiation and it itched but it was not as bad as I thought it would be.
Next was the operation to remove the tumor and six of my lymph nodes under my left arm. The cancer had spread from the original tumor into my lymphatic system.
Next was several rounds of chemotherapy. This was the roughest part of my journey. I was sick, tired and worn out. Fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, loss of hair and so on and so on.
I made it through and came up on the other side!
What got me through was my doctor Donald Rink, an amazing human being who constantly reassured me all was going to be okay. My husband who spoke up for me when I could not speak up for myself. My friends treated me no differently than before the diagnosis. Gisele, my hairdresser who shaved my head when it was time.
My husband stood strong the entire time from diagnosis to my last chemotherapy treatment, never complaining or asking for anything for himself.
When it was over my dear sweet husband broke down and laid in a fetal position crying buckets of tears. For almost two years he had not revealed any feelings he was having, concentrating on me 24/7.
What we must remember is that it is important to focus on the person with the diagnosis but to not forget the people in that person’s life. They too are on a journey of their own.
A cancer diagnosis can alter the entire family. Responsibilities change, emotions can heighten, the future may look different.
Marty and I got through this and so can you.