The first time mom showed signs of breast cancer it was scary. I remember being home with her that morning. She woke up from a night’s sleep and her nightgown was filled with blood. She was bleeding from the ducts in her breast. The ducts that are created to supply milk to nourish a newborn baby were spouting blood. It was horrifying.
What came next was a diagnosis of breast cancer, a mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, chemo, and radiation. They were a part of the process. She was shook up but not defeated. The chemo caused nausea and the radiation burnt her badly but she was a survivor. A few years went by and the breast cancer metastasized. It reared its ugly head in her spine. This time chemo, the removal of part of her spine, and a hip surgery to gather bone to replace the vertebrae removed from her back were in store. A few more years go by and you have got to be kidding me here we go again. This time the cancer returned to the breast where it began. This third time there was no surgery just radiation that burnt her badly and burnt away all the reconstructive surgery that she so painfully endured. Again shook up, body beaten, but she endured.
For this article it was my honor to sit down and talk with my mother. She is a three time breast cancer survivor with many stories of triumph to share and words of encouragement to gleam from. We talked at length but for the sake of this article I will share three things that she wanted those dealing with breast cancer to know.
- Find a good doctor that you trust. Or continue with the one your already have if you trust him or her with your life. Trusting your physician will be key. You don’t want to second guess what the doctor is telling you each time you go and have that weighing on your mind. Search out a doctor that meets your needs and calms your fears. One that your trust has your best interest and survival at the top of his priority list.
- Have a close friend that you can share your heart with; don’t just keep it bottled up inside. My mom talks about the ladies bible study group that she was a part of at the Pentagon. Those women where a treasured part of her life and encouraged her when she needed it and when she didn’t. Their outlook was always positive.
- Don’t worry. Try to keep pleasant thoughts as much as possible. Worrying makes things worse. Who can add a day to their life through worry? Positive thoughts and positive speech were look good medicine. My mother filled her mind with thoughts of her future. She read her Bible often to help keep her thoughts centered on the good in life. She had a time of feeling defeated and why me after the third diagnosis, but quickly moved from this place of mental despair, because her focus had to be on living.
My mother is a big proponent of women receiving their yearly mammograms. Breast Cancer Awareness tests and screenings saves lives. However, in her case she received a clean bill of health only a few weeks before receiving the diagnoses of cancer. For her the mammogram did not detect the cancer. She was neither bitter nor angry but grateful that no matter what she was a survivor. It has been over 10 years now since her last cancer diagnosis; my mother continues to be a survivor and encourages anyone facing this challenge to keep fighting this fight without giving up. At 73 years old, she encourages you to keep the mindset and the spirit of a survivor.
BMWK: Has anyone in your family experienced Breast Cancer?