I was first diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram, and there were no lump-like symptoms. I was given the surgical-treatment options of having a double mastectomy, plus it was recommended that I take Tamoxifen, a drug used to treat early and advanced breast cancer.
When I broke the news to my family and friends, I received total support. Naturally, everyone was upset to hear the news but my support network was a very strong one.
Probably the one thing that kept my spirits up while undergoing surgery was to care for my mother. Three weeks after I had my surgery, she was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. I moved in with her, took her for chemo and radiation treatments and in the process, I thought less about what I was going through and more about her. My close friends and those from Gilda’s Club South Florida, a wonderful cancer support group, really became my bosom buddies during this very difficult time.
The best advice I can give is that no one with cancer has to fight the battle alone. There are so many support groups that can help tremendously, not to mention family and friends. Stays connected with everyone and talk with others who have gone through the experience of being a breast cancer survivor. Also, it’s important to stay strong in your faith and religious beliefs. One of the most important lessons I learned was that life is precious and a diagnosis of cancer does not mean that life is over.
Women with breast cancer feel a gamut of emotions, but it is important to stay focused on recovery. One of the big issues I had to deal with was feeling a loss of femininity and overcoming a sense of being less desirable. Today I feel more appreciative of good health, and I never take anything for granted.
During my journey I had many moments of worry — not so much about me, but for my mother. I remember feeling so sad for what she was going through with the chemo and radiation. Her ordeal made me want to fight harder and stronger.
I am at a point in my life where I enjoy each day, and try to always be supportive of others with cancer. I have volunteered my services to Gilda’s Club because it is a place where I can talk to others who have had similar experiences. During my journey, I also attended many caregiver and survivor meetings.