Survivor since 2004
When I received my breast cancer diagnosis at age 48, I was devastated. Like others, hearing that news feels like a death sentence. I lost my own mother when she was 54 and I have always thought that maybe I would follow her fate. She missed so much of my life, and I just hope that I will be here with my husband and children for many years.
The best advice I can give anyone who faces such a challenging diagnosis is to get a SECOND OPINION. I initially went to Denver to have more biopsies and other equally frightening tests, and to meet a surgeon. I just didn’t feel comfortable with her and her plan. I felt pressured to make a quick decision, but I thought I didn’t have choices.
I went to visit my sister in California a few weeks before my planned surgery. She and a few of her friends, and her pediatrician begged me to get another opinion. I met with the medical oncologist and it changed everything. He offered me a totally different procedure, one that wasn’t even mentioned in Denver. He helped me to feel so positive regarding my situation. I had a female surgeon who I am still close to. After surgery, I searched with their help to find a radiation oncologist. I interviewed three radiologists and found a fabulous man. So began my long spring and summer in California. It was difficult for me to be away from my husband and boys but I know that I received excellent care.
For me the psychological aspects of facing my own possible mortality and all the ramifications for me and my family have been the most difficult. I still have a lot of anxiety in dealing with all this. I now appreciate the small moments that we have each day: maybe a conversation with my sons, the amazing clouds, a hug from a friend.
I think we all need strong emotional support during this unplanned detour in life. I know for me I had a strong connection to my medical team, a supportive family and friends, an amazing psychotherapist and the Cancer Center with their encouragement, all enabling me to be stronger than I might be now two years from diagnosis.
Today, I am trying just to focus on the here and now and to not worry about the future. It is enough to be well and fulfilled.