I was 44 when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I had no symptoms, no lumps, and no reason to believe I had cancer. I had been getting mammograms since my 30’s due to cystic breasts so this was my routine mammogram. I got a call that they needed to retake the mammogram with more magnification. A few days later I needed a biopsy because they saw changes and could not be sure everything was alright. “ Don’ t worry” , they said, “ it’s usually nothing.” My Gynecologist even called and said, “ My wife just went through this and it was nothing.”
On Friday afternoon, January 20, 2000, I was diagnosed with Intraductal Breast Cancer!! WOW…I thought I wasn’t supposed to worry, … it was nothing!!! New technology and a fabulous team of radiologists found my cancer at a very early stage. It really doesn’t matter what stage or type of cancer you have, it is a REAL SHOCK when the doctor tells you, “you have cancer. ”How can this be??? Breast Cancer, I don’t have any Breast cancer in my family, I’ve done everything right, I breast fed, they said that helps prevent Breast Cancer. How could I have Breast Cancer?
Well, I did. What do you do next? I went to two doctors and the Sylvester Institute to confirm the diagnosis. I met with three plastic surgeons to discuss options for reconstruction. I asked all the questions; what about radiation? What about chemotherapy? There is nothing more important than the team you pick to help you through this, to find the cure for you, they are your lifeline.Three weeks later I had a left breast mastectomy, even though I was told it was intraductal and I could have a lumpectomy, I wanted it OUT!!! I needed to know it was gone! Keeping an open mind, researching your options and communicating with your family are vital during this time. I found that by keeping a positive attitude, talking it out with my husband, my daughter and my parents, kept everyone participating in my treatment. I was particularly surprised with my daughter’s reaction. She was only 10 years old and most concerned with whether I was going to die.
When I reassured her the doctors said I would be fine after surgery she said she would be there to help me and make me better and she told me she loved me soooooo much. My doctor said that she was fine because I was fine. He told me right from the beginning to be honest with her. He had families who were not honest with their children and when they found out later it made the them feel that it must be more serious or that there parents were lying because they weren’t honest from the beginning. He told me that because my daughter and I were close, if I had a positive attitude, so would she. If I was strong, she would be too! Well he was right. We went on with life as usual.
Early diagnosis saved me from devastating treatments and a terminal illness. There are many types of cancer and in varying stages of seriousness. New medical break-throughs are being found everyday. Supporting organizations like the Women’s Breast Care Center at the Memorial Sloan Kettering and our own Women’s Breast Care Center at Boca Raton Regional Hospital are all working to find the cure faster.
Since I was diagnosed, I began doing the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure in West Palm Beach. After many years I formed a team with my Temple (Pray with Your Feet) and now 80+ women participate fighting for the cure. A significant change in my life since I was diagnosed has been meeting other women who are also diagnosed. In particular meeting Stephanie. Stephanie made me realize how important it is to get the word out. To save other women!!! She taught me about the BRCA Gene and THINK PINK.
I love helping; whether it’s coaching a newly diagnosed Breast Cancer patient, sitting through chemotherapy with them or being involved in Think Pink events, I will give back and continue to help until we can save “Everyone”!!
Donations to Think Pink Rocks will benefit 501(C)(3) Charitable Organizations. Beneficiaries include Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center/NY and University of Michigan Oncology Center