My story is about survivorship, even though I have been a survivor less than a year. But, my sisters Marilyn and Beverly are long-term survivors. Marilyn was 45 years old when her breast cancer was detected during a mammogram more than 20 years ago. She had radiation therapy, but a year later the cancer returned and she required a mastectomy. My other sister, Beverly, was 44 years old when she discovered a lump in her breast. She had a lumpectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiation.
In April 2004 at the age of 48, I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). After two lumpectomies, my doctor found dirty margins and invasive cancer outside the DCIS. Cancer was in two of my lymph nodes. I underwent a mastectomy, and eight chemotherapy sessions. Because of all they had gone through, Marilyn and Beverly were able to offer me great support. I am still dealing with some of the side effects of the chemo and my hair is slowly growing back. I've had reconstructive surgery and am beginning to feel like my old self again.
I had always been diligent about performing breast self-exam and having my yearly mammograms. Nobody wants to get cancer—I surely did not—but I knew that, if I did, I would have to be strong and hopeful. My sisters had made it and I knew I could, as well.
In 2004, only a few months after my last chemo treatment, I participated in my first Komen Race for the Cure® as a survivor! I walked the 5K in Denver and it made me feel alive! I had participated in other Susan G. Komen Races, where I proudly wore my sisters' names on my back. This time my husband wore my name and I wore my sisters' names again. I am very proud of my sisters, Beverly and Marilyn, for the many years they have been survivors, and I will be a survivor, too!
Dr Danette M Vercher