I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38. I will never forget the date, April 14th, 2003. After having a routine mammogram, I was told I had cancer. My world just became all about my diagnosis. I realized I was my best advocate and needed to get all the facts and information I could about my cancer. I did the research, talked to doctors and to other survivors. After much research and listening, I made the decision that felt right for me. I decided upon a single mastectomy with reconstruction and chemo therapy. While going through the process, I was very fortunate to have a great support system. I was able to talk to a few survivors who answered my questions. People at my husband's work volunteered to make meals for my family while I was going through treatment. This was a great help and relief to me, because my children were 5 and 7 at the time.
Tracy and Debbie were dealing with breast cancer at the same time I was, and we were there to support each other. Realizing how truly blessed I was to have such good friends who were there for me when I needed them; I knew other women going through breast cancer would benefit greatly with the same help and support. With that in mind, Debbie, Tracy and I were committed to found a support group in Windsor. We all felt that there was a need for women in our community to have the same support that we received. We wanted to give back. Now 4 years later, we have successfully created a support group that is able to help other women in our area help get through their treatment. Cancer has given me a gift. One that I was not looking for but, it found me: Breast Friends.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 at age 34. I had gone in to see my ob/gyn for my yearly check up, and is typically the case, I reminded him of my mother's medical history and asked if a mammogram would be in order. (My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31, after having three children. By the grace of God, she lived to be almost 64.) After agreeing that it was a good idea to start with my baseline mammogram, I scheduled an appointment. I was called about a week later with a request to have further x-rays, because the radiologist detected a suspicious area in my initial mammogram. I expected the diagnostic mammograms to be completely normal. The radiologist, however, continued to take x-rays and perform a biopsy. The biopsy confirmed his suspicions that I had a cancerous tumor. I actually ended up having a tumor in both my breasts with one being hormone receptive positive. I never felt these lumps. I am very thankful the radiologist continued to pursue what he believed did not look right.
The next step was to meet with a surgeon. Additionally, I did further research, and I decided to have a double mastectomy with bi-lateral reconstruction, rather than lumpectomies. I was young, had a 3 year old daughter and did not want to follow a band-aid approach needing to re-visit this when she was 12. My desire was to make decisions with as little regret as possible, because I knew the road would be difficult enough without second guessing my initial decisions. I sought treatment in Denver at Rose Medical Center for my surgeries and eight chemotherapy treatments.
Throughout my journey, I had a lot of support. My burning desire going through everything I did was for something bigger than myself to come out of this. I didn't want to just go back to my life without learning some life-changing lessons. I knew I was experiencing all of this for a reason, and I knew that God had a purpose and a plan for me. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He had not forgotten me nor forsaken me. I wanted to come through this entire experience with a grace and a strength that I had never known before, and could not know without going through this "trail of fire".
God is faithful. Along the way I met and became 'breast friends" with Stephanie DeWayne and Debbie Martin, other breast cancer survivors also going through their treatments at the same time I was. After being together through our trials, we became united in our vision to do whatever we could in helping other women through their journey with breast cancer.
In March 2004, Breast Friends was born. Our vision and burning desire remains the same. We want to do whatever we can to help make the journey for other women and their families struggling with breast cancer a little easier. If we can carry some of the load and share some of the burden, then that is what we want to do, whatever that entails. If it is just a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a hand to hold and help guide the way, than we want to be there.
I feel immensely blessed to be a part of Breast Friends and am honored to be helping women come through the other side of breast cancer; stronger and filled with whatever purpose God has placed in their lives.
At age 38 I was diagnosed with beast cancer of the right breast. That was in August of 2003. Although tests did not indicate cancer in my left breast, I decided to have a double mastectomy. It turned out to be a wise decision, because there were a lot of positive lymph nodes on my right side. After the surgery, I went through a battery of tests to determine if the cancer had metastasized to my bones or major organs. A spot was detected in my kidney. Treatment consisted of chemotherapy every 3 weeks for 8 sessions followed by 6 weeks of radiation.
It was more difficult for me to loose my hair than going through the surgeries. My hair perspective has since changed. A bad hair day does not bother me anymore. I am just very thankful to have hair!
I am truly blessed to have had such a wonderful, supportive and caring network of immediate family (husband, daughter, son, siblings, parents and in-laws), as well as friends, neighbors and large church family and God. I was so touched by the out-pouring of kindness from my community and God. It was only by the grace of God that I am doing so well today. My doctor reminds me that I am a walking miracle. Miracles do happen.
Talking to Tracy, Stephanie and other breast cancer survivors, it was like a sisterhood of compassion and understanding. It was truly comforting and encouraging to have friends to share the journey with. Tracy, Stephanie and I decided Windsor needed a support group so we could always share and support other friends. We are so thankful to have such great community support, as well a strong faith in God. We now serve his kind heart by helping other women going through breast cancer.