I was at work when I got the call confirming I had breast cancer. I really expected to be told it was a false alarm, considering it was my first mammogram. My aunt had been diagnosed a few months earlier, first case in the family, which moved up the timeline of when I needed to be examined. The initial mammogram resulted in an ultrasound followed by a biopsy. The biopsy results came back negative! Phew, internally, I grumbled about all these additional tests that made me panic for no reason.
But then…I got a call. The radiologist didn’t agree with the pathologist’s findings, and I needed a second biopsy. What?! I called my primary doctor for input on this radiologist and how a second biopsy could find something. I was told this was extremely unusual, but the radiologist was well respected – and I needed the second biopsy. After, the radiologist called me himself. I did have cancer. I walked out of work stunned.
I was told repeatedly that it was good the radiologist questioned the initial results. If another year had gone by before my next mammogram, the doctors would be having very different conversations with me. I was also told how, even 10 years ago, if I had received the same diagnosis (HER2 positive), it would have been a much more dire prognosis. Oh, the advances that technology made!
Eventually, I began learning that ‘small wins’ are what make a good day. If I wanted, I could have a very pessimistic, negative attitude because I still had cancer, or I could embrace the small victories. It was difficult for me to lose my independence and accept help. I had a tough time coming to terms with my mother doing my laundry, others cooking and cleaning for me as well as being chauffeured around.
I distinctly remember that my first chemo treatment was on Halloween. The oncology department was decorated. I was scared – how would I feel, what would it be like? Then, my sister showed up. She said, “That’s what family is for. Family doesn’t let family do things like this alone!” We played cards and watched the activity on the floor.
Twice a week for three months, my sister drove three hours, round trip, to pick me up after chemo and take me to my parents’ house. She would make the same trip five days later to take me back to Santa Cruz for my weekly doctor appointments and the next chemo session. My aunt, weekly, sent me a card and little gifts counting down how many chemo sessions I had left.
Chemo was followed by radiation five days a week for six weeks. Friends drove me every day to radiation at seven in the morning. I told one person when my radiation was and, in less than 48 hours, all the slots on my care calendar were filled. For three months, people dropped off food at my house every week. These were the few times I saw friends, reminding me a little bit of my ‘normal’ life. These small things marked good days.
Now, I’m approaching the five-year anniversary of my last treatment. I get mammograms and body scans annually. I will always fear that cancer might come back. Still, there is comfort in knowing I’m not really in it alone, and, if necessary, I could make it through again – especially with the support of my family and friends. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I am very pleased that Poly is joining the fight.
Join the Fight with Pink Poly Sync 20 Speakerphone
To help raise awareness and support for this important cause, Poly is offering a limited-edition Pink Poly Sync 20 Speakerphone. For every unit sold, Poly is donating $10 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation to be used towards initiatives that combat breast cancer, including early detection, education, and support services for those affected. Learn more at: https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/