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I turned 40 this year which meant I decided to get my first screening mammogram. 3 of my co-workers and I decided to get our mammogram's together o n September 30th. When we were done we went out for Margarita's to celebrate me getting my 1st mammogram and becoming part of their 40+ club. 3 days after my mammogram I got a call saying that I needed to get further images of my breast BUT not to worry since this is very common with first timers. I was like okay well lets do this and get on with my life. October 9th I checked into the Breast Center at Lakeview Hospital and just kept an open mind that this was common and not to worry. Several biopsies were taken from my right breast and I was then scheduled to come back the following week for more biopsies of my left breast. I was again assured that this was all just routine and again common and not to worry since I don't have any family history of breast cancer. That weekend life just went on as normal and I tried not to think much about it.
Monday October 12th: The day that changed everything...I got up and went to work as usual. I was working in the covid tent at work swabbing hundreds of people for the corona virus when my watch started buzzing and I saw the number pop up from the clinic. I set my supplies down and grabbed my phone. On the other end was the sweetest voice possible and she asked me if I had a few minutes to talk. I was like sure no problem, I'm at work but let me walk away. The voice then asked me if I was sure I was okay to talk for a while....My heart sank, I just knew this wasn't going to be good news. I asked her to just tell me what it was and she said the words no one ever wants to hear...YOU HAVE CANCER... My heart sank into my stomach, I started sweating and became short of breath. I grabbed my purse and told my co worker I had to leave. Walking through the back hallway of the clinic is just a blur. I know I was crying but needed to tell my supervisor what just happened and that I needed to leave. SInce I work at the clinic where the Breast Cancer Coordinator works she met me outside at a picnic table and talked me through what was going to happen. She scheduled me an appointment with a wonderful surgeon named Timothy Perkins and sent me home with her phone number and a packet of information outlining what the next chapter of my life would look like.
Now what?...I HAVE CANCER!!!!! How on earth could I have the C word! I am only 40! I am healthy! I had no symptoms! I sat in my mini van and cried and said Fuck about 100 times. Then I called my best friend Erin and we cried and swore together. She was able to talk me down and get me stable enough to drive home and tell my husband and children this terrible news. I pulled in the drive way 2 hours earlier than I usually do and Sean was on the lawn tractor mulching leaves while the kids were on the trampoline. I took some deep breaths, turned the van off and walked over to Sean, he knew something was wrong and could tell I had been crying. We just hugged and i whispered the words it was positive. We both were just numb and held each other and cried. We took the kids inside and told them what was going on and that it was going to be okay because this was caught early and mom is a fighter. The next few hours were a whirlwind of emotions and we drove to my parents to tell them in person that I had cancer and then to my grams and aunt to tell them in person.
The next few days were a blur of questions and appointments. After meeting with Dr Perkins we decided on a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. Dr Perkins referred me to a plastic surgeon to meet with the following week to determine what type of reconstruction I wanted to do. I had no idea there were so many options for repair. I just assumed it was staying flat or getting implants which I wasn't a huge fan of. I have so many sensitivities and allergies and knowing my luck my body would reject the implants or worse yet give me cancer again. While doing my research I found a procedure call DIEP FLAP repair. This surgery uses your bodies own tissue to rebuild your breasts. It is a BIG surgery(14 hours) and the recovery is much longer up front but from what I read, everyone that chose this route was so much happier that what I was reading about implants. When Sean and I met with the plastic surgeon Dr Hillard he suggested the DIEP FLAP repair before I even brought it up to him. He and Dr Perkins had been discussing my case and both felt that this surgery would give me the best outcome. We were all on the same page then and decided to opt for this type of repair.
A few days later I got the call from Regions Hospital that they had a surgery date for me and it would be December 7th 2020. So we had a date and now I just needed to stay healthy and not contract covid in order to have surgery. YIKES, how do I stay away from sickness when I work in an urgent care that see's mainly respiratory patients...This is where my primary care doctor wrote me restrictions to stay away from respiratory patients and not to do patient facing care....This was a little tricky at first because what could I do to still help out my work team but keeping me safe too. It was decided that i would work 6 hours a day prepping patients for their virtual visits(thank you covid). This was able to keep me safe until I started isolating last week.
So now what...Every day I have been going for at least a 4 mile walk to clear my head and walk my worries away. I have packed my hospital bags, wrapped all the christmas gifts and prepped some meals for the future. My family has been blessed by so many wonderful people with their prayers, cards, meals, donations and words of wisdom. We can't thank you enough for all that you have done for us.