Posted Oct 17, 2010
Seven year ago July 8, 2003 on what was planned to be a day shopping with my then 13-year-old daughter became a day that stopped me in my tracks and cemented the meaning of “your life can change forever in one moment.”
Sara and I took the train to Boston and I told her that I needed to stop at Mass General Hospital to “quickly have my mammogram” and then we could head out for a day of shopping and lunch. The radiologist suggested that the mammogram showed an area of calcifications and that she would like to do an ultrasound. The ultrasound confirmed that there was a cluster of cells that needed to be biopsied. Several days later a biopsy confirmed that I had breast cancer.
I have no family history of breast cancer, have never smoked and have no known risks for developing the disease and I had three previous mammograms that were “completely clean.” It is imperative that women schedule their mammograms yearly. If I had elected to delay the mammogram, I may not have been one of the fortunate women who found their cancer so early and was able to treat it.
What unfolded from that day has been an incredible journey. I elected to have a mastectomy with reconstructive surgery and after my final pathology report revealed an “invasive carcinoma” I went through three months of chemotherapy. It was a difficult time filled with fatigue, nausea, being bald, and worrying about the impact my disease would have on my children.
It is here that I need to say how incredible the Abington community was in helping me through a very difficult time. I arrived home from the hospital to a basket filled with gift certificates from all area restaurants so that when I was having my treatment, I never had to worry about making dinner. The basket had certificates for massages, movie coupons, Dairy Queen certificates and many inspiring words of hope. Dinners arrived at my house for over two months. My mother moved in to help with all the daily activities my children were involved in so that their routine would not be altered. I will forever be grateful to the many people who helped me through this period of my life.
I tell this story because now seven years later, I am able to give women hope. My children came through that time stronger and more appreciative of what life is about. They are resilient and they are strong. They had moments of fear, moments of panic, but they also had moments of understanding and compassion. I now support causes such as the Susan Komen Rally for the Cure and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. This past winter the Abington High School girls basketball team had a “pink night” and they raised money for breast cancer research. Every dollar helps in finding a cure. I am not the same person I was seven years ago. I live with more hope, more vitality, more compassion, and more humility. I am blessed to be here.
There is an amazing amount of research being done in the area of breast cancer. I feel fortunate that I have been able to be a part of this research. I still go for blood work every three months, and mammograms and MRI’s every six months. Each year that I am cancer free the women I work with have a “pink day” to celebrate. My children celebrated a recent milestone in my survivorship by hanging pink ribbon balloons around town. I believe that the most recent statistics show that one out of every six women will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer.
My closing comments are get your mammograms, support your friends and family members fighting the disease and continue to help raise money to support breast cancer research and its cure!