I want to share my story of survival because I believe it will give hope to others who are starting their journey down that terrifying road called "breast cancer." On March 23, 1997, I received the devastating news that I had metastatic breast cancer. My doctor thought that he could shrink my tumor, which would allow me to have a lumpectomy and save my breast. It worked—or so we thought.
After my lumpectomy and four more cycles of chemo, I was ready for radiation. I was almost through! Unfortunately, it was not to be. The radiation oncologist found a lump; the cancer was back and growing despite the chemo. I had to have a mastectomy, but I was ready for one because my breast was now my enemy.
After completing radiation, I went to the Kansas University Hospital for another opinion and they advised me to have a stem cell transplant (at the time that was the recommended treatment for metastatic breast cancer). During all the testing in preparation for my transplant, they discovered that my cancer was back in a big way. The monster was back in my liver, lung and bone. Two more rounds of chemo followed to try to hold the monster at bay until I could get my transplant.
I entered the hospital on May 27, 1998, to do battle in the fight for my life. Six weeks later, I emerged bald and weak but cancer-free. As the weeks, months and years passed with no recurrence, I knew I had won my battle.
Do I still get scared? Yes, I do. Do I still worry every time I go for my checkups? Yes, I do, but I don't think about it every day. I plan for the future now, but there was a time when I felt I couldn't because I didn't think I had one. Now I know I have a future, and with more research and a cure there will be a future for all of us. When people find out that I am a survivor they ask what helped me through my treatments. I always tell them it was four things: faith, hope, family and friends. I wish the same for all of you.
When I was told in April 2014 that I had breast cancer, I felt like someone socked me in my stomach.