Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer My 2011 diagnosis with breast cancer came 3 days after my 25th college reunion.  I had been carefully watching a spot and was getting annual MRIs.  My Mother had breast cancer at 50 in 1 breast and then again at 60 in another which was part of the reason I was on a more aggressive screening plan.  I was not particularly worried and really did not expect to get the results.

The path from that call opened up hope, a river of kindness, and empowerment.  The opposite of fear and despair.  My life was fairly miserable at that point.  I was in a disconnected dysfunctional marriage.  I was supporting the family of four children both financially and was the primary care giver.  The call about the initial findings prompted me to reach outside of the cave of my life and the connection to kindness was like a shot in the arm that brought me back to life.  I had concerns about what it would be like to have a double mastectomy and feel damaged as I exited a marriage.  Would I be attractive to someone else.  A smart friend shared her experience with me and showed me that the option would not be ugly and she gave me lots of information about the surgery and recovery.  She said that it hurts like a train running over your chest.  The analogy got me prepared so that the pain was fully expected. An old boyfriend who is on the board of Sloan quickly got me connected to great female doctor in NY and she was warm and respected my through process once she laid out all of the options.  The empowering part was that I decided to go to all of the appointments alone and to take charge of the decisions for my body. I made my treatment decision and got the logistics set up so it would not interfere with my work schedule.  I told my children that everything would be fine.  Later one of my daughters told me she never worried because I remained upbeat and gave her the comfort that all would be OK.

The surgery did indeed feel like a train ran over me.  My Mother came to assist post surgery and two friends checked in on me.  I moved to the first floor which was both more comfortable and a mental and physical separation in the marriage.  As I took charge of my body, I became braver with my life decisions. It is now a few years since the surgery. I am divorced, I feel great about my decision and my body is comfortable I have tried to pass along the kindness that I received. I was clearly lucky and did not have a gruesome path with chemo and it did not spread. I am grateful for the medical benefits that I have and the opportunity to look at life differently.