October 17, 2012
The Day Everything Changed...
Hearing those words, “You have breast cancer” is life altering. It felt like someone walked up to me and smashed every ounce of security that I had ever felt...
Tiny shards of glass falling all around me.
I was left feeling vulnerable, helpless and exposed. My own body had turned against me. I was in danger but there was nowhere to hide.
But then an interesting thing happened. Everyone around me started picking up the pieces: my doctors, nurses, family, friends, even strangers. They helped me put myself back together one piece at a time until I was whole again.
Sometimes, the kaleidoscope of colors that comes from being broken, then put back together again is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I have emerged a new person, ready to guide others to find opportunity through adversity."
My Official Diagnosis:
- Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
- Bilateral Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
- Lymphatic invasion: 2 of 26
- 6.5+ cm tumor
- Estrogen/Progesterone Receptor Positive: 100%
- HER2 negative
- BRCA 2 positive
The life lessons that I have learned along the way have been much more impressive than my long diagnosis. Read about my life lessons on my blog.
Bilateral Mastectomy with Reconstruction
As soon as I heard those words, "You have breast cancer", I knew that I wanted a bilateral mastectomy. I have a family history and tested positive for BRCA2 gene so my oncology team was supportive of my decision.
Recovery was tough but I had so much support from my family and friends. I was fortunate to have my surgical drains removed one week after surgery. Having always been active, I was back to walking three miles within three weeks.
Read more about my bilateral mastectomy on my blog.
"We are going to marinate your body in chemo
for 16 weeks."
~Dr. C., my chemical oncologist
My Chemotherapy Regime:
- Port insertion surgery
- Four treatments of Adriamycin-Cytoxan (AC)
- Four treatments of Taxol (T)
- Every other Monday for 16 weeks.
"Guess what Mom? I have a purple POWER PORT!"
There are medications for nearly every side effect of chemo. Don't suffer in silence!
Read more about my journey through chemo on my blog.
When the doctors do not agree...
"Beverly, you had cancer in two of four lymph nodes, let's remove the rest."
~My surgical oncologist
"The chemo and radiation will kill the cancer, you don't need additional surgery."
~Three other oncologists
It was an excruciating decision. The doctors did not agree and my life was in my hands. I opted for the aggressive route: lymph node dissection to remove the remaining 22 lymph nodes.
I finally received the call that I had been waiting for:
"Congratulations, Beverly, you have No Evidence of Disease!"
28 Radiation Treatments = 28 Days of Inspiration
"How do you want to remember radiation?"
~My radiation nurse
28 Days of Inspiration
I used my time on the radiation table to brainstorm inspirational posts for my Facebook page. I updated it every day after each of my 28 treatments.
My journey through radiation was fairly easy and very fulfilling!
A Time to Heal
Finally, it was time to head to my beloved Sanibel Island! Walking along the beach helped me heal physically and emotionally.
Read more about my time of healing here. This video tells my story of finding healing while rescuing a brown pelican. Enjoy!
Final Phase of Treatment
My final two surgeries, a prophylactic hysterectomy and final reconstruction surgery were completed in September and my recovery went better than expected. I'll take an Aromatase Inhibitor, a drug designed to block the estrogen receptors for the next five years.
Now that I am on the other side of breast cancer treatment, I can focus on my quest to create HOPE for my fellow breast cancer survivors through this website, my Facebook page and with my book: "Celebrating Life Decades after Breast Cancer".