MY STORY OF BREAST CANCER AND AWARENESS
Hi, everyone! I hope you all are having a great week! We have finally started having some cooler weather here, and I am definitely in a better mood, and I think everyone else is as well. Do you all notice the energy in people and the Universe? I have been seeing a Reiki Master for energy work and wish I knew more about it. In the last three weeks, I have noticed the weirdest energy. Is it just me, or has anyone else felt that way? Anyway, my post today is about breast cancer awareness because it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
If you are new to the blog, a little background here, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) a very aggressive form in June of 2013 after a routine mammogram. My mammogram showed a calcification that looked abnormal, but no tumor was detected. I was sent for a biopsy, and two weeks after my diagnosis, I was having a double mastectomy. I had a few weeks to recover, and then I started eight rounds of chemotherapy. Chemo is a terrifying idea to process because, well, it’s poison. But for TNBC, there is really no other choice. I would have my treatments every other week. I lost my hair two weeks into it, which was so hard! I never got physically sick, but I felt achy and nauseous for most of those four months. My chemo was over the first week of November, and I got a few weeks to recover from that treatment, and then I started radiation.
I had to go to the hospital for twenty-two days straight (except for weekends) to get the radiation. It’s not horrible, but it did make me extremely tired. I was supposed to get twenty-six rounds of rads, but I got a nasty burn that got infected, and so they stopped me. I would continue to see my doctors every three months for a while, then slowly went to six months, and now I see my oncologist every eight months. I had reconstructive surgery fourteen months to the exact date of my mastectomy. The cancer side had to be reconstructed with my latissimus muscle, which left me extremely weak on my right side, and to this day, it still feels weird and looks even stranger!
TNBC is definitely not in my family. I had one grandmother and an aunt that had breast cancer in their late 70’s so as far as my team was concerned, they didn’t think it was heredity. I took two different genetic tests and tested negative for everything. I am convinced that my cancer is environmental.
Ladies, I never in a million years thought I would get breast cancer. It’s not that I thought I was invincible, it’s just not something I thought I would get. I have personally known two women who have died from TNBC (actually in my old neighborhood in Alabama) and read about so many more. This breast cancer and for that matter, any breast cancer is not to be fooled around with. If you feel something, get it checked out. Don’t assume it’s a cyst and will go away. Be vigilant about mammograms too! They don’t hurt that bad! It’s all about early detection!
What is life after cancer like? It’s a gift for starters! I am fortunate that I don’t have neuropathy or any of the other adverse side effects of chemo. I do have a rash that comes and goes on my back in the exact place the radiation came out of my body that has been with me since 2013. And then there is the fear. I try not to think about it or give it life, but sometimes it sneaks up and rears its ugly head. I am seeing my plastic surgeon in a few weeks because there has been a recall on a particular implant, and I have one of them (he used two different implants during reconstruction). The implant is causing cancer (really???), and there have been over thirty diagnosed cases from the particular implant. I will have it removed and replaced with a different kind, hopefully, next month. My gynecologist refers to breast cancer as “the gift that keeps on giving!”
I don’t want this to be a depressing post, but more one of hope. When I read about TNBC, it was doom and gloom, but I am here and thriving, and there is hope for every kind of breast cancer. We are so fortunate to live in a time where there are so many great doctors and different ways to fight it. We just have to pay attention to our bodies and never think it’s silly to go and get something checked. If you aren’t happy with your answer, seek a second opinion.
I value you, sweet friends, so much, and I want you to take care of yourselves and be aware. Be sure to talk to your daughters, granddaughters, and any friends about early detection. It can save lives!
Everything in this post is somewhat old. The jacket is from Veronica Beard from a few years ago, but I still love it. It’s just a fall outfit that could be worn to an outdoor festival, football game, or errand running. Nothing special today, except to remind you to get a mammogram! Lots of love to all of you!
I hope you have a great day!
Photos: Mary Summers Hafner
Jacket (similar and love!) // Top // Jeans // Sneakers (similar) // Tote (similar)
October 10, 2019 @ 9:49 am
Thank you for your post. You are a woman to be admired.
October 10, 2019 @ 10:14 am
Cathy! What a journey you are on. I will keep you in my prayers that this next surgery will be the end of that particular chapter. You are such an inspiration and we all appreciate your sharing your journey with us.
All my best to you,
October 10, 2019 @ 10:28 am
Great article, Cat. Our family is so proud of you.
October 10, 2019 @ 10:40 am
Love you Cathy. What an inspiration. Praying that all goes well.
October 10, 2019 @ 11:14 am
I wasn’t expecting this post. Powerful, authentic, cautionary and inspiring. Thanks for keeping it real and keeping us, your followers, aware. You are a beautiful, brave woman — inside and out.
October 10, 2019 @ 11:35 am
October 10, 2019 @ 12:00 pm
Thank you for this wonderful post!
October 10, 2019 @ 2:26 pm
You are so inspiring and genuine Cathy, and I feel so blessed to have met you.
lOve you forever
October 10, 2019 @ 3:12 pm
Great post Cathy. Thanks for sharing and wishing you all the very best.
October 10, 2019 @ 6:04 pm
October 10, 2019 @ 9:30 pm
Thank you for telling your story. I too was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in July 2018. I just completed chemo, radiation, a lumpectomy and chemo pills. I am so encouraged by your story that you are a six year survivor. Praying that you continue to do well and that the issue with the implant is resolved.
October 11, 2019 @ 10:03 pm
Great article-thank you for sharing. I am a breast cancer survivor, almost 5 years. My cancer was found during a routine mamo-i was lucky they found it early.
Ladies-get your yearly mamo-it can save your life!
Mary Nelle Cummins
October 13, 2019 @ 4:37 pm
I was in my early 60’s when I had breast cancer twice. Mom was in her 70’s, as you mentioned, and I think Barbara was in her 70’s.
I have a close friend who had TNBC 3 years ago when she was 75, and she refused chemo. She’s very drug sensitive and was convinced she would not be able to handle chemo. She did have very strong radiation. She also had a lumpectomy, not a mastectomy. I think she’s a walking time bomb! Either that or God does not intend for breast cancer to end her life.
Thank you for boldly telling your story. I’m sure you are saving lives.
Love you, Mary Nelle.