This is a picture of our Aunt Alice and her 4 girls during her chemo treatment. She chose to share this image because despite of everything, they were happy and having a good time!
That little pink ribbon we all see during the month of October saved my life. I know this sounds like a strong statement but it is true. My story begins in early summer, in the shower, one of the brief moments a mother of 4 young children gets to herself. As I ran my soapy hands across my body I felt it. Yes...it! A small, marble sized lump in my breast. “Huh, I never noticed that before.” I was sure it was nothing, an enlarged milk duct from nursing, a cyst or whatever, but surely it would disappear as quickly as it showed up. Life went on for the next while and I didn't obsess over it, I would occasionally check in on my little discovery and make a mental note to mention it to my doctor on my next routine visit due in December. I can only describe it as an occasional nagging inspiration for the 'what if?' type of scenario we all run through our minds on different occasions. This went on for a couple of months. My girls were ages 5,7,9 and 11 – life was busy! Still, I would check on this little nuisance with more frequency. Then the month of October came and everywhere I went I was bombarded with little pink ribbons...at the market check out line, in department stores, every time I opened a magazine, everywhere, it was omnipresent. It was as if angels were speaking, rather screaming at me to go get answers. So I did. Initially my regular doctor thought it was surely nothing to worry about but thought I should see a specialist just to be sure. I did. He did an ultra-sound, mammogram, and needle biopsy. He reassured me that I was too young (under 40), too healthy and I had done all of the things they like you to do to avoid breast cancer. I was scared and started to listen to my body. The next day the results of the biopsy were in – negative! I should have been ecstatic but for some reason I was not. Now I was obsessing over this extra lump I was toting around and I was not the hypochondriac type but, for some reason I could not accept the results. The next week I found a surgeon, I wanted this lump out of my body. The surgeon was very hesitant to remove it but I insisted. December 5, 2001 at 8am....I woke up from that surgery to find my surgeon at the foot of my bed with tears welling up in his eyes, apologizing for being the bearer of bad news. The doctors had been wrong and I had a malignancy - stage 2 breast cancer. This is the beginning of a very long journey that began with the powerful message attached to that little pink ribbon.
Take time to take care of yourself.