Breast Cancer Survivor
My ordeal began with a trip to my gynecologist. I had a basal mammagram at age 36, and was getting regular mammagrams up until I was 43. Working two jobs, I left little time to concern myself with health issues, and since the only diagnosis any doctor gave was that I needed to lose weight, I didn't get suspicious when I felt the lump. In my late 20's, I was told that large breasted women get cystic breasts, and since breast cancer didn't run in my family, I wasn't alarmed. A few years before my diagnosis, I discovered a bloody discharge, and was assured by a physician's assistant that it was nothing. In 2007, my gynecologist felt the lump he described as a large mass, and immediately referred me to a breast specialist. After two biopsies, the diagnosis was Insitu Ductal Papillary Carcinoma. I was scheduled for a radical modified mastectomy, where the surgeon removed 15 lymph nodes (only 2 were positive), and informed me my tumor was 17cm. Next, I had an oncologist who aggressively gave me chemotherapy for 5 months, followed by two months of radiation. As scared as I am (I have been closely screened, and have been told I'm doing well, but I haven't been told I'm cancer free or in remission), I can honestly say this devastating disease has made me more appreciative of life, and has made me look within myself and try to answer the age old question, "what is my purpose on this earth?" At this point in my life (or as we say in the support group, this part of my journey), I think my purpose is to help and motivate anyone who seems to be down. I take a drug that helps reduce cancer reoccurrance, and that produces side effects such as swelling, fatigue, and arthritic type symptoms. I thank God and that gynecologist for helping me gain a second lease on life, and giving me the strength to fight for a cure against the dreaded "C".