To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Yahoo News asked women who have had breast cancer or are going through treatment to write about the people in their lives who stood by them and cared for them. Here's one story.
FIRST PERSON | Before I had breast cancer, I was a massage therapist at Mills Health Center in San Mateo, Calif. Many of our clients came from the community. One of my regular clients was Flo, who sought treatment regularly to keep her shoulders loose and manage her stress.
One day, when I went to greet her for her regular session, she told me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She would receive aggressive treatment and additionally chose to get massage once a week for the duration of her treatments.
I was there through it all. She got through it and got back to her life, and I saw her less frequently. But I was so grateful to have been able to make a difference for her.
The day I got the dreaded call from the radiologist confirming that I had cancer, I ran into Flo. We were driving side by side on El Camino Real, a busy thoroughfare in San Mateo, of all places.
I rolled down the window and shouted the bad news.
She shouted back, "Call me! I'm your buddy!"
She was. I had inflammatory breast cancer. My treatment was aggressive. I started dose-dense chemotherapy on March 3, 2007, 10 days after my ultrasound clued in my radiologist that I "very probably" had cancer. I had eight infusions, two weeks apart. I had all the same drugs Flo had received, plus Herceptin. She took me to my appointments. She brought me Jamba Juice on chemo days and let my call her up and cry. She knew what to say when I told her my veins felt like they were full of Drano. She reassured me that the rotten way I felt was normal, and told me how long it would last and what would help me. Her husband Don also jumped in. They came and took out my daughter and son, ages 7 and 9, so I could rest. Whenever I was on the phone with Flo, Don would shout, "Tell her to remember, this is TEMP-O-RA-RY!"
Flo's partner in crime was my mom, Anne. They conferred together on the phone, about everything from my prognosis (scary, but they didn't tell me) to my boyfriend (wouldn't last; it didn't.). Mom was in Seattle. She relied on Flo to know how I was doing, and when Mom came to help when I had surgery, she and Flo were already fast friends.
Flo and I drifted back into our own very different lives after the journey, as she told me we would. We drop each other a line every so often. My gratitude to her is beyond words. I couldn't have done it without her.
- Disease & Medical Conditions
- breast cancer
- inflammatory breast cancer
- Breast Cancer Awareness Month