"My Stupid Cancer"

What went through your mind when you were diagnosed with cancer?

In the spring of 2005, after having a mammogram, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was very devastating and very scary, just hearing the word “cancer”!  Over the next months, I went through lots of scans and testing, and I did a lot of crying.  Cancer had also spread to my lymph nodes.  I was sent to an oncologist.  She told me she was sending me to have a stent put in, and I was to start chemo the next day.  This did not feel right to me.  I saw another oncologist in the same clinic, and I was told that I needed to start chemo right away or I would not make it past one year.  I refused the treatment, with the doctors asking me, “Do you want to die?” My response was “NO, I want to live!!!”  I believed in my heart that the chemo would kill me before the cancer.  I had that really strong gut feeling.  I had seen my mother go though it, and it didn't save her.  It just made her sicker.  I didn't want my family to have to watch me go though that.  I had a purpose:  a strong well to live and fight like I've never fought before!

Can you tell us about your biggest fear?

For sure, my biggest fear was leaving my four children!  I still had a 10-year-old son to raise.  I prayed that I was making the right decision – that I could live long enough to see him graduate.  I did not want my children to go though the pain of losing their mother.  At the time, I was 50 years old.

How did you get through it?

I had a mastectomy and lymph nodes removed – lots of surgeries.  I just wanted the cancer out of my body!  I also had breast reconstruction.  I prayed to God every day that I was doing the right thing.  The love of my family was amazing!  LOL, this might sound weird. I woke up one morning and told my son, get ready because I need you to go somewhere with me. We went and purchased the cutest Akita puppy.  These dogs are known for their loyalty and protection.  I was thinking that if he lost me, he would have her and remember the day we went together to get her.  It gave us both something to love and take our minds off the stupid cancer.

How did this experience change you?

It has made me appreciate every day.  It has, for sure, made me a stronger person.  Life is too short.  Live every day like it could be your last.  Be kind, be loving, and be thankful.

What do you want people to know?

Choosing to not do chemo was one on the hardest decisions I've ever made.  Sometimes you have to trust what you feel is the right thing for you. I was, for sure, one of the lucky ones!  Twelve years cancer free!  I thank God every day!  I now have a beautiful four-year-old grandbaby.  Life is good!  I feel so blessed!