I have known Mary since eighth grade, we were inseparable the whole year, until she moved in 9th grade. We have kept in touch all this time, and whenever we talk we just pick up where we left off. We have had allot of adventures together (remind me to tell you our running away story!). We have always been there for each other through thick & thin. She is an amazing friend, and since it is breast cancer awareness month (I know, my procrastination is showing!), I wanted to post my friend’s story.
On January 16, 2008, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was a healthy 34-year-old woman who had been active most of my life. I had never had a serious medical problem before, not even a broken bone. So this news was definitely not what I expected to hear from the doctor’s mouth.
About 2 months or so prior to this day, I had decided to examine myself after a shower. I had recently had an annual physical and received a breast exam that resulted in a clean bill of health. Honestly, I don’t know if it wasn’t actually God looking out for me, since I rarely did self-examinations. In fact, I probably only checked myself once a year when it popped into my mind. While doing the exam, I located what felt like a small “lump”. I went over it several times to make sure that I wasn’t making something out of nothing. It definitely felt like something was in my breast.
To be honest, I didn’t worry at that point at all. I thought, maybe I would ask my mother what she thought. I finally did get around to asking my mother if she could feel anything on my breast and she confirmed what I felt and advised me to get it checked out. Again, I never felt worried, so I wasn’t in much of a hurry to get it checked out as I should have been.
I finally made my appointment, which turned into a referral for a mammogram, which turned into a referral for a biopsy. Finally, the day of the results, it hit me that maybe there was something wrong. But, since I typically try and think positive, I had decided in myself that I would not worry unless I had to worry.
Luckily, my mother had the foresight to come with me to the appointment. I had told her several times before that day that it was not big deal and that it really wasn’t necessary. Boy I am glad that she had been there for me. When my doctor came in she said the results were not what she had hoped and that I had breast cancer. I was totally shocked, I don’t believe it hit me for a few weeks.
After a few biopsies, and blood tests, it was discovered that I have Triple Negative Breast Cancer. It is a newly recognized form of breast cancer that responds only to chemotherapy. It is aggressive in nature, which is why early detection is so very important. In fact the tumor had grown from 1.5 cm to 3.5 cm in a matter of weeks.
Since that day, I have had the most supportive family, friends, co-workers and strangers that one could ask for while going through this experience. I have also decided that this is a journey that I do not want to look back and have horrible memories. My boyfriend had encouraged me to look at this as a year to remember not a year to forget. I believe that spreading awareness, specifically to young women is one way that I can contribute, as well as heal myself.
I am currently half way through chemotherapy and I will be having a double mastectomy following my treatment. Although, it has not been easy, that’s for sure, some days are harder than others are. I do know one thing; I am so happy that I did a self-examination. I am so happy that I didn’t wait to get my lump examined. These steps probably were the reason I was a stage 2 and not any worse.
Update: Mary had her double mastectomy in August and her test results are clear! Yay! You can read this story and see more pictures at the Non-profit Mary & her boyfriend started up, just click here.