I was 59, very regular about having mammograms and pretty good about doing self exams. I had NO family members on either of my parents side who had breast cancer. No cousins.... nobody.... I was the only one. You can imagine how shocked I was when 7 months after a regular mammogram, I felt a lump in my left breast. I knew, absolutely, this was breast cancer It was hard, and irregular shaped, nothing I had ever felt before. I hysterically told my husband, called my doctor immediately, and got right in. He sent me for a biopsy and --the thing-- was 2.2 cm. It was a nightmare I could not wake from. I figured my life was over, and I would die. Thankfully, I have a very dear friend who is a nurse and used to run a breast diagnostic clinic. She was my angel who dragged me back from the edge of the cliff. She went with my husband and I to the first appointments, translated and remembered what I was being told. She said one time, I already had about 90% of the information about the tumor already. I read someone who wrote, it becomes easier, in a way, after the diagnosis is done. You know where you stand and the cancer is staged and your treatment is presented to you. I had a wonderful young woman surgeon with hands like an artist. I chose a really wonderful anesthesiologist... also a woman. When I walked into the surgery room, it was an all girl team! I chose to have a mastectomy because my breast was very small and a lumpectomy would have been very disfiguring anyway. I also did not want to travel to have the radiation treatment I would have had to have. I had the mastectomy, and 5 sentinal nodes removed. The first report were they were all clean but after the pathologist report there was one with microscopic cancer cells. It moved my staging from a 2A to 2B. My treatment plan never changed. I never had to take any pain medication after the mastectomy. I don't want to lead anyone to think it is always like this.... it just was for me. I just didn't have post operative pain... ever. I had a port placed at a second surgery and the same day my chemo treatments started. I had a very bad reaction to one of the drugs in my chemo-cocktail but once that was adjusted, I just marched through the treatments with determination a ton of humor. I lost my hair, but embraced my look with reindeer antlers at Chrismas. I felt good enough throughout my treatment to take care of my 6 horses. Thankfully, the breast cancer was estrogen positive and I am on Femara for 5 years. My wonderful horse community supported us emotionally and held a fundraiser for us to help with the burden of the medical bills not covered by our insurance. There was a wonderful group of angels who even brought us food when I was too sick to cook. I have a communication email for the horse community and shared my experiences with everyone. I have to say, 99% of it was positive and I urged every single member of the group to get your yearly mammograms! I just had my annual MRI and visit with my oncologist yesterday. All is clear. I am happy, healthy, and wear a prothesis very comfortably. The photo is at Christmas time halfway through my 4 rounds of chemo. Hang in there.... you'll make it. There is a large sisterhood of us survivors out here. You will become so strong, and you can wear a bumper sticker that reads, "Chemo Ain't For Wimps" You go sista!
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