Julia S.

Tough Enough to Wear Pink

Cancer Road

I am quite private person, so sharing my story is out of character. My one piece of advice that you may take away from my story is to get a mammogram. No matter what is said on the piece of paper your insurance company suggests.

A bit of a backstory… My paternal grandmother died from breast cancer which metastasized though out her body and my older sister had breast cancer at 34.My father tried alternative methods to stop the spread of prostrate cancer, it didn’t work.

With my family history, I religiously schedule a mammogram every year. Up to this point I was cancer free. Being cancer free since I started mammograms, my insurance company sent a letter suggesting every other year exam. Knowing my family history, I didn’t take their suggestion.

September 2017 rolled around, and I scheduled my annual mammogram. Thinking the results would be clear as always.Bu t when I was asked to return to the hospital for a three D mammogram, I was surprised, but not concerned. The results of the three D exam showed two tiny clusters of cancer in different locations on my right breast. Hmmm…. I have always been the type of person to confront any type of adversarial situation head on and this was no different. My mantra through out was, “I have cancer, it doesn’t have me”.

I went though all sorts of tests to determine the aggressiveness, HR positive or negative, but the test that scared me the most was the genetic testing. Was I a carrier of a cancer gene that could affect both my daughter and grandson?I didn’t think I could live with myself if I caused some type of cancer in those two. The results were great… I am not a carrier. So, if I’m not a carrier, why was I the lucky one? The cancer thread on my father’s side wasn’t passed to me and on my mother’s side, no one succumbed to the disease. I guess, someone somewhere decided that I was the one in eight women.

My question, (remember my mantra), the genetic test had a positive result, so the other tests will be the same. During the consultation with my oncologist, she shared what the outcomes may be… chemo, radiation, etc. I told her, that wasn’t going to happen. This is just a bump in the road, and I am going to be fine. I really don’t remember being worried or anxiously waiting for these results as I was with the genetic testing. My doctor called in the evening with my results. First thing she said, “I usually don’t call patients after hours with their test results, but I couldn’t wait to tell you. First off, chemo and radiation will not be part of your recovery process. And, as for the rate of aggressiveness of your cancer, it is in the single digit!”As she further explained, the aggressiveness scale is between 0 and 50. When she read my results, she explained, she just had to call since she hasn’t seen a single digit in many years!I think she was more excited than I was.

I elected to have a double mastectomy. Since, I didn’t want to experience the cancer threat to my other breast.After surgery, more good news, the cancer didn’t spread into the lymph node.

My recovery will consist of a cancer pill for five years and checkups. When asked about being a survivor. My standard answer is… I equate my cancer experience as just a bump in the road of my life. I had cancer, it didn’t have me!

Sincerely,

-Julia S.