Breast cancer is an issue that is dear to my heart. That's why for Breast Cancer Awareness Month I'm showcasing breast cancer survivor stories from CafeMoms. I hope that these stories not only raise awareness but also provide hope and comfort to women who have been diagnosed or are being treated for the disease.
Today, Glennax2, mom of two, shares her experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35, testing positive for the cancer gene, and doing all she can to make sure her two daughters don't get the disease.
"My Story" by Glenna
I found a lump on my left breast on April 11, 2003. I had just turned 35. I wasn’t sure if the lump had to do with my menstrual cycle because it was that time, so I waited a week to get through the cycle and then decided to go and have it checked.
On May 1, 2003, I had a mammogram and ultrasound. My doctor said he was 99 percent sure it was not cancer, and gave me three options: I could have it checked again in six months; I could have it removed and tested; or I could get a biopsy. I decided to have the biopsy. It was a good thing I did because on May 19, 2003, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I remember getting off the phone and immediately calling my husband, but he did not answer his cell phone at the time so the next person I called was my mother. I told her I had received the results of the biopsy and then when I started to say that it was cancer, I found myself without a voice. It was hard to breathe. I started crying and finally got the words out. I spoke with my mom for awhile and then called my husband. I found myself in the same situation when I told him—no voice, no breath, bursting into tears. After getting off the phone with him, I remember sitting on the couch, crying, and praying. I took a deep breath and said to God, "Okay, I have this cancer now. What do I need to do with this?" That was the last time I cried for a long time about it.
I had to take action. The first thing was to get to the doctor and figure out what was the best way to handle this issue. He gave me a couple of options and decided to go with the lumpectomy. On June 3, 2003, I had my surgery. Once the surgery was complete and I had recovered, I met with the oncologist to go over the chemotherapy plan. I had a port placed on June 26, 2003, and had my first of eight chemo treatments on July 3, 2003. My doctor was so amazed at how well I went through this treatment. My blood count was good, and I never got sick. I also had seven weeks of radiation and flew through that with ease as well. I know that the Lord was the reason I flew through so well. He was my rock the whole way. Of course, God also provided other support along the way. My biggest supporters were my husband, mother, step-mother, father, sisters, and a couple of really good friends.
My daughters were also huge supporters. They were 6 and 2 when I was going through this. My oldest daughter would help me around the house and never acted any differently towards me. My youngest daughter loved to brush and spray my hair with water. My hair was down to the middle of my back, and she would just soak my head and back and brush away. Once I lost my hair, she asked me if she could brush my hair, and I looked at her and said, "Okay, go get your stuff." I proceeded to take off my bandanna, and she got the spray bottle and a towel and would spray my head and wipe it dry. When I lost my hair, I decided not to get a wig because I thought that, for me, it would be harder to put my hair on every morning than to see myself bald. My daughter saw me the same with or without hair. She just had to adjust her tools.
I was so relieved that this journey was over, but in reality it was just the beginning. I had gone through my check-ups, mammograms, tests, and all that good stuff like the doctors wanted me to. I did this for three years with no problems or signs of cancer. Hurray!! Then I got the genetic test done on September 11, 2006, and the results came back on October 11, 2006, as Positive for deleterious BRCA1 mutation.
In a nutshell, I have the cancer gene. My first reaction was to call the doctor and schedule an appointment to go over my options. I did this and decided to have my ovaries removed and both breasts. On March 3, 2007, I had my ovaries removed and on May 10, 2007, I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction. I am happy to say that as of June 3, 2009, I have been cancer free for six years. I still have to get a yearly check-up, but by having my breasts and ovaries removed, I have greatly reduced the chances of recurrence by less than 10 percent.
When people ask if it was a hard choice to make—to have all this removed so young—I tell them that all I have to do is look at my two beautiful girls and know that the choice I made was right. My life and being around to raise my girls is much more important than breasts and ovaries. Today we do all we can to help others going through this terrible disease. When my daughters turn 18, we will have them tested for the gene and pray that they do not have it. They have a 50/50 chance of being a carrier. I am thankful that we are able to be aware of this now so we can keep a close eye on them and take necessary means to help them to keep cancer away.
I hope my story will help others, and I am able to be there to help anyone who needs a prayer, hug, advice, kind word, comfort, or information. God bless to all. We Will Beat This Cancer!
Thank you so much to Glenna for sharing her story.
Do you have a story to tell? How has breast cancer touched your life?