By Angie Daley
My heart started to race as I read the message regarding my mammogram results. When I heard the words, “the Dr. would like to request additional testing.” I thought to myself, “this can’t be happening to me.”
It was only my third mammogram.
After discussing the message with my husband Jason, I immediately called my OB-GYN. It was a Saturday, so her answering service paged her. When she called back minutes later, we discussed the mammogram findings, and she assured me that I was going to be ok. She figured it was nothing more than dense breast tissue and told me to calm my nerves. After we hung up, I told myself to relax, and call the Dr. on Monday to schedule the testing.
Breast Cancer Diagnosis
In February I had my ultrasound. The Dr. told me that she couldn’t rule the tumor as benign because of its shaping. She then requested a biopsy, which happened the following month, on a Tuesday. The resident who spoke with me before the procedure said that the results would be ready on Thursday, and he would call me. When the phone rang from the hospital on a Wednesday afternoon, my heart sunk. Calling a day earlier meant bad news.
During the call, I only remembered being told that I had breast cancer, it was a low grade (which was a good thing), and that I needed to call the breast surgeon immediately. I appreciated his kindness and warmth, because I know women who experienced the opposite. After I hung up, I fell into my husband’s arms crying.
What about our six-year-old son Joshua?
How would we tell him?
I wanted to live long enough to be around for both of them. I was scared, but then I declared that I was going to win this battle, and wouldn’t stop until this was all in my rearview mirror.
Stage 1a Treatment Plan
A couple days later, we met with my breast surgeon to go over my treatment plan, which consisted of surgery, chemo, and radiation. He explained that I had Stage 1a triple negative breast cancer, and that it was caught extremely early. The next week, I met with a genetic counselor, my oncologist, had an MRI, and scheduled my lumpectomy. I got my results from my genetic testing, which showed that I was negative for the gene, and it wasn’t passed down to my son. The MRI results showed that the cancer had not spread and was contained to the small .07cm sized tumor. As each set of results rolled in, the fear started to disappear. Jason was supportive and put his own fear aside. We began to work as a team; scheduled appointments, discussed paperwork, and analyzed results.
Breast Cancer Treatment Results
I had a successful lumpectomy in April. Then, completed eight rounds of chemo in August. Just finished 20 rounds of radiation on October 10th. I had very few side effects (mainly hot flashes) during chemo and felt great. Ringing the bell was one of the proudest moments of my life! Radiation was the last step in my treatment, which went smoothly. I felt great, and had little fatigue. Hitting the gong was amazing. I BEAT CANCER!!!
As I reflect on my breast cancer journey, I want to share some nuggets of wisdom:
- GET THOSE MAMMOGRAMS! Mine literally saved my life. Don’t let the fear cause you to skip or postpone appointments. My breast cancer was an aggressive one. If I had delayed my mammogram, even only a few months, my situation would’ve been completely different.
- I pray that you aren’t diagnosed, however if you are, know that your journey is yours. Some people who were diagnosed had a difficult time with chemo. I also know people who were diagnosed and had a negative attitude about it. My experience was a blessed one and I felt fantastic during chemo. I chose not to let other people’s journey determine my outcome.
- A breast cancer diagnosis will really show you who is and isn’t in your village. It was shocking to see a few of my closest friends disappear as I fought this potentially life-ending disease. However, I was grateful for the people who supported, encouraged and motivated me to keep fighting!
- You CAN beat this disease. Years ago, a breast cancer diagnosis was a death sentence. That is no longer the case. Treatments are much more advanced, and there’s plenty of resources to help fight, and win, this battle.
- If you know someone who is dealing with breast cancer, there are many ways to support them. Every person is different. Some people appreciate phone calls, others don’t. I preferred to text about my diagnosis. You may not know what to say or how you can help, so just ask 😊
As we celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to send a special shout to all my fellow warriors. Remember to keep fighting, and never give up! #wecaughtthismugearly #breastcancersurvivor
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