I was diagnosed with breast cancer on December 8, 2003. I was at work that day, and I kept calling home and checking the answering machine. No messages. I got home and still had no messages, so I called the doctor. Bad news: my lump was cancer.
I was home alone when I got the news, and the nurse asked me if I was okay. I told her I was fine; that I just needed time to think. She offered me her home phone number in case I needed to talk. It was so sweet of her to offer, and I'll never forget it. Next I called my sister and told her the news. She told me she was on her way over, but I told her to stay at work—I would be just fine. But how can you be fine when you get news like that? My sister called my daughter, and my daughter came home from work to be with me.
I was the first one in the family to ever have breast cancer. My first chemo treatment was on the 23rd of December. I felt fine Christmas Eve and even spent it like I do every Christmas Eve—with family at my grandmother's house. By Christmas Day, I wasn't feeling too good; I got a little shaky and just wasn't myself. I started going for chemo every 3 weeks. They call me "Attitude" at work, and I guess there is a reason for that. They all told me to "take that attitude and turn it around," and I did.
I had a good support team of family and coworkers. I fought this nasty thing, and I won. I said, "It's not going to get me, I'm going to get it!" I wasn't ready to die. I was only 39. I wanted to see my three-year-old grandson grow up. When my hair fell out, he didn't want anything to do with me. I just cried. He finally came around and understood. He colored on my head with washable markers, and thought that was just the coolest thing. He then wanted to do that every time he would come over. He was one of the reasons I fought so hard.
I prayed a lot, and I know God answers prayers. I made it through this tough time with support, a good attitude and lots of prayer. I am now cancer-free, as of September 28, 2004. To everyone out there fighting, keep your heads up, think positive and pray. God bless each and every one of you.
Steve Del Gardo