Welcome to My Story
The journey for me get to this point of wanting to participate in such a wonderful event has been a bumpy one. Up until 2015, my health had been pretty good, nothing out of the ordinary, no meds required. In the spring of 2015 I was diagnosed with a very rare autoimmune disease that started all my changes. After trying many different combinations of medications, we finally found a mix that has really helped control my flares. Unfortunately, my story does not end there. In the fall of 2015 I had a stroke, which was truly a humbling experience for me. I had no use of my left arm/hand/fingers and could not even dress myself, never mind drive. I would take the handivan to my physio appointments 2 and 3 times a week where I worked very hard to regain the use of my arm/hand/fingers. By having the handivan available to me I was able to regain my independence and eventually through a lot of hard work and determination I did regain the use and drive again. I was able to pick up my life and move on with minimal inconveniences. All was good!
Skipping ahead to the end of August 2017, I received my reminder letter that is was time for my mammogram. I go ahead and book it for a Thursday morning. Boy was I surprised when I get a call that afternoon that we needed additional imaging and an ultra sound and that I was booked in for the next morning. When my phone rang late Monday afternoon I was so surprised to hear my doctor’s voice on the other end saying they wanted a biopsy done. He was very positive at this time saying it is very normal etc. just trying to put my mind at ease. He called my lump a cherry tomato, that’s not too big I’m thinking. Two days later I was in the mammogram suite at Joseph Brant Hospital where the technician was very warm and kind, trying to help me relax as best I could, definitely the right person for the job! When we left she handed Richard a parking pass and said I would probably not hear my results until the end of the following week as it was labour day weekend. She was absolutely right we did not hear anything and just went about our lives. It was the phone call that happened Tuesday evening that changed everything. When my doctor said my results were positive I was thinking great, everything is good, it is positive. As he started talking about surgeons, I soon realized that we were talking about two different meanings of the word positive. I was meeting my surgeon two days later just so she could try and put my mind at ease and book my surgery date. I meet with her again the following week to really go through everything and I was like wow this person is amazing, she treated me as if I were her only patient of the day, meanwhile the waiting room was full, she did not rush us at all and Richard I walked away an hour later feeling like everything was going to be ok! So within 5 weeks from first mammogram I was having a lumpectomy for breast cancer. Although surgery was only 2 hours, it was a long day. Because lymph nodes were being removed I needed to get there early for the dye to be injected into my breast and then had to go back to the mammogram suite for some wires to be placed. Once again the same technician was there with the radiologist and when we were leaving she once again gave Richard a parking pass. (Remember parking passes are like gold with the cost of hospital parking). I remember when we finally left the hospital I was afraid to go home, I was afraid of the unknown.
When I had my follow up with my surgeon she was happy with the way I was heeling but was not happy with my pathology report. I guess my cherry tomato was a little bigger than what my imaging showed. So there we are scheduling round two. It was at this time that I became aware of the Camisole Project and wanted to pick up a package that the project puts together for breast cancer patients. While picking up my bag at Bodymed Boutique I was talking with the owner Barb and she said she was going to get me a parking pass for the hospital for 10 visits. I was so appreciative of this but in my head I was like I only will have pre-op and surgery days so what was I going to do with another 8 visits. I recall just before going in for surgery my doctor saying if results are not better this time we will have to have a different conversation but she was still very positive that things would turn out great this time. Well things didn’t go the way we were all hoping for so our next visit was with the oncologist. Our first meeting with her was to discuss my options and the second meeting was decision time. After a long week of discussions, research, sleepless nights we met with her again and decided it was best for me to have a mastectomy. I was so sure that I was just going to have the mastectomy and leave it at that. So back we go to my lovely surgeon to schedule the next surgery and once again I was only having mastectomy and no reconstruction. Richard kept telling me to consider having an implant but I didn’t want anything to do with it. Three weeks before my surgery date we have one last meeting with my surgeon to finalize everything. As we are chatting she once again confirmed that we were just doing the mastectomy but this time she said I hesitated with my reply. She got me into see the plastic surgeon the next day to go over my options, she didn’t want me to have any regrets. I am so grateful that she insisted on this appointment as it really did change everything. I was no longer having a 2 hour mastectomy with an overnight hospital stay. I was having an 8 hour mastectomy plus reconstruction and a 4 night hospital stay. I did not opt for an implant but instead had a diep flap done, that is where they take tissue from my abdomen and create a new breast for me. So yes this was major. It was a go big or go home moment for me.
The first few weeks after surgery I was cursing everyone and everything, I couldn’t figure out why anyone would put themselves through this or why anyone would even suggest it! I will be very honest it was hell. I celebrated every little step and I set goals, yes they were small to start but as each goal was passed I felt stronger and better about everything!! Today I am almost 15 months post op and feeling very positive about my future. All my doctors are very happy with my progress and call me a Rockstar. I will be very honest though every day I do have the fear of reoccurrence but if that does happen I know I will still have the best support system in place that anyone could ask for!
So my journey has definitely been an interesting one but I have had the most amazing doctors one could hope for. My friends and family have been wonderful and now it is time for me to figure out a way to give back and to make sure the fight continues for our world to hopefully one day be cancer free.
Your support and generosity in helping me achieve this goal is greatly appreciated.
I am a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend.
I am kind, caring, compassionate, positive, supportive.
I am a strong warrior.
I am a survivor!!!
Most importantly I am grateful!!!!
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