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 | September 21, 2009
A suspicious marble-sized lump increased to 4 cm wide in only two weeks. A biopsy and a phone call -- "I have some news and it's not good," brought me to an abrupt halt - what, and how -- would I tell my family?
I announced my breast cancer diagnosis (aggressive Invasive Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ, Her-2/Neu Positive, Stage II) in person. A look of fear washed over my mother. As a mom myself, I knew this announcement frightened her. Even though I was 58, Mom was terrified of losing me.
Giddy laughter eased the tension as my oncologist explained lumpectomies and mastectomies. My mom struggled to gain composure. (Diagnosis: Breast Cancer -- Part 1 recounts those early days.)
Mom supported my every decision, no matter what it was, no matter how often I changed my mind. She wanted to accompany me to chemo treatments (Carboplatin, Taxotere, and Herceptin, preceded by Dexamethason and Compazine for nausea), but because she lived so far away, I didn't want her to travel. The staff at the Mills Breast Cancer Institute in Urbana, Ill., assured Mom that they would care for me, and they did.
October 8th -- October 26th
Mom called every day. Chemotherapy (discussed in Diagnosis: Breast Cancer -- Part II) proved to be burdensome. I felt as if I was carrying an elephant through quicksand. And then, a mere two and a half weeks later, I lost my hair, a situation more painful to Mom than to me.
The most painful physical part of my breast cancer journey was the sentinel node biopsy (discussed in Diagnosis: Breast Cancer -- Part III). If ever I wanted to cry throughout the entire ordeal, it was during that biopsy. Nothing hurt more. Mom felt my pain.
My mom and one of my sisters accompanied me to the hospital for the lumpectomy. Because chemotherapy shrunk the tumor to nearly imperceptible, the surgeon had to work around where the tumor had existed (close to my breast bone) prior to chemo. Mom and my sister comforted each other. After surgery, chemo continued. Later, radiation began every day for 36 days, followed by more chemo. I went by myself, but I was never alone.
Today -- July, 2015
I take Anastrozole (Arimidex) to prevent cancer from recurring. I have an amazing troop of supporters: Mom, Dad, sisters, children, grandchildren, and friends, all of whom continue to provide emotional and loving support in my war on cancer. My friends, too, came forward with scarves and hats. My relationship with all of them is warm, comforting, and nurturing. I never lacked for support or love during the entire breast cancer journey.