This is first time I am reflecting on the events that occurred on June 2017. I remember like it was yesterday. I went in for my regularly scheduled mammogram. It was nothing special, very uneventful & went home. About a week later, I remember traveling to my daughters softball practice when I got the phone call. I answered and a voice on the phone greeted me and said my mammogram showed something suspicious. I needed to come back for another mammogram. I remember saying “What?” They repeated and asked me to come middle of next week. I said, “Sure!” and carried on with my day as if nothing happened. I didn’t tell anyone about this but always had it in the back of my mind!
The next week, I went in for the 2nd mammogram and the results confirmed something suspicious. They asked if I could come back later that day for biopsy. In my mind, I kept thinking it’s probably nothing! Stay positive.
Later that day, I had a neighbor watch my kids as I went back to the facility. I am by myself during all of this and feeling very anxious! Just some background info: My parents and brother live about 2 hours away. My other brother lives about 20 hours away. Husbands family is 1 hour and 1/2 away. I didn’t want to worry my kids or husband since I don’t have all the facts! My mom had been thru ovarian cancer 9 years ago- stage 4 and she was in remission. She is such a worrier and did not want to worry my mom or dad!
So, as I am waiting to be called back for my biopsy, I am shaking with anxiety. It seemed like forever but they finally called me back. They used the ultrasound to assist in the biopsy. I remember hating the sound of the biopsy. It was such a loud clicking sound that made me jump. Just when I thought it was all over, they found another spot. That too was biopsied. Once finished they said it would be about a week.
A week passed and no word. I was trying not to think about it but it was weighing heavily on my mind. I remember it was 4th of July week so I knew I wouldn’t hear anything during holiday.
The phone finally rang and I knew it was them. I remember my stomach in knots and heart was racing. The lady on the phone said something to the affect of my results were in and the one spot is not cancerous but the other area is breast cancer. She told me it was tubular carcinoma. I stopped in my tracks and was a little dazed. I don’t think I responded. My only thought was my kids! They needed their mom and I was NOT going down without a fight! Cancer messed with the wrong chick!
Fast forward to a few days later and my OBGYN referred me to see a surgeon in her practice. I said ok. In the meantime, I told my husband who was very supportive and I also told my mom. She was concerned because I was going to see a surgeon which was NOT an oncology surgeon. Needless to say, I cancelled the appointment and made an appointment with an oncology breast cancer surgeon she found at the James at OSU.
It was July 18th and my mom came with me to the appointment. It was an all day affair! I had more mammograms, blood work and then the exam. I remember the surgeon asking me, “Do you want a lumpectomy or Mastectomy?” In my head I was saying, “Huh?” I was floored! I looked at him and said, “I want my breasts, just take out the cancer! I remember him looking at his calendar and he had openings in August. I told him I wanted to do it late September because I am a teacher and I want to get to know my kids before I have to leave them! My mom had a cow but he said ok.
I told my husband I wanted to go to the beach and relax before school started & before my surgery. It was such a relaxing vacation, love spending time with my 2 girls and my husband! It was just what the dr. ordered! Before vacation I emailed my principal who came to my house. He was very supportive! We worked together to get a long term sub.
It was August and I started getting my room ready and was excited to meet my kids. I was eager to get my mind off of the cancer! School started and I was sooo happy! I was loving my kids and my mind was occupied!!! During that month I didn’t share anything with my fellow colleagues at my school until a couple weeks before my surgery. My surgery was scheduled for September 21st. I remember emailing both the staff and my kids parents on a weekend. I guess I was chicken but I didn’t want to discuss anything just yet…
I received such amazing support from my school family, my 24 classroom kiddos and their parents, my friends and family! My school Staff wore pink the day before my surgery. My parents got me a basket of goodies: robe, magazines, chapstick, & gift cards. Staff made bracelets that said #Hayestough. I was speechless and felt so blessed and loved!!!
My kiddos have my heart ❤️
My kiddos the day before surgery.
It’s surgery day and I didn’t sleep at all! I remember getting ready and my parents came up to watch kids. I had to be there at 6:00AM & I was just about to leave when I grabbed my purse and didn’t have my wallet! OMG! I couldn’t believe this was happening of all days! I texted the custodian who let my mom in the school to see if it was in my room. Sure enough I get a text it was in my desk drawer. I did a Huge sigh of relief and then realized I was about to have surgery. The last time I had surgery was about 5 years ago when my appendix was taking out. Even then it was laparoscopic. I have never had a major surgery like this so my mind is racing!
We are at the hospital & I remember waiting in the waiting room with my husband, Danny who was trying to make small talk and tell me jokes;) The nurse called me back and the fun began;). I remember the dr’s standing over me and my chest being completely exposed while they were putting the guide wire inside my chest. Next was the nuclear breast/lymph gland which stung but wasn’t bad. It was finally time for them to wheel me back. My husband kissed me and said he loved me and with a blink of an eye I was back in surgery. I remember counting back and then I was out!
I woke up groggy and exhausted. I saw my family and balloons;). The balloons were from my classroom kiddos💓 As I got more alert I noticed my chest was bandaged and realized I had a surgical drain. I remember Abby, my youngest was so scared. She has not seen Mommy like that before. My oldest was so amazing she comforted Abbs and looked so relieved that I was ok!
My lumpectomy was a huge success! I had stage 2 tubular carcinoma & no cancer in lymph nodes! I had a drain in for 3 weeks. I was active with my classroom kiddos and used an app called Flipgrid to talk to them daily during my medical leave. My husband was such a rock during this whole ordeal! He Drained & cleaned my drain, cooked meals, chauffeured kids and me around, did laundry, cleaned house, but most of all was there for me with a shoulder to cry on, a laugh to give me or a hug I desperately needed! He is amazing! My oldest daughter Madison helped with my youngest and around the house. I even went to Abby’s (who is my youngest) Buddy Walk which promotes individuals with Down Syndrome. I had to wear a sling for my arm so I wouldn’t extend it. The sling was also a nice place to hide my drain too. I always kept my sense of humor and ❤️ life!
Now was the discussion of treatment, radiation or chemotherapy. I was relieved when I realized No CHEMO! What a relief! I did have 28 rounds of radiation and am taking the pill Tamoxifen for 5 years. The Rads didn’t hurt but after the last treatment I was pretty burnt. But I was not complaining! I remember going in for radiation treatment and meeting survivors who had metastatic cancer and were in the best spirits! I had no reason to complain!!! I enjoyed meeting new survivors and sharing stories. I was beyond elated on the last day of radiation and the sweet sound of me ringing the bell!
I have to say that I am very lucky! I have the ❤️ and support of my family, friends, 24 kiddos & parents, school family & community. I also have my faith. I did participate in my 1st Komen Race for the Cure with my friend and oldest daughter 💕
My daughter’s softball team even raised money for breast cancer research in my name and I threw out the 1st pitch! The support I have received has been incredible and I am BEYOND blessed and grateful 💕
I am now cancer FREE💓💓💓I thank GOD everyday for my amazing life! The whole breast cancer experience has made me stronger! Don’t get me wrong, I had my low moments! I put on a brave face before my medical leave, before/after surgery, and every year when I go for my check up & mammogram. No one knows the battle I have with myself. I get depressed some days and then feel guilty for feeling this way due to others having worse! Each day is better than the last. I am thankful, lucky, & beyond blessed to have such a support system!
My advice to you: Please get a mammogram yearly! Don’t skip a visit. If there is a lesson to be learned in all this it’s not take life for granted! We all have challenges in life and some are far more difficult than others. We need to be there for each other thru the good times and bad! Keep the faith & stay positive! Love and Humor are the best medicine or at least they were for me! I am just months away from my yearly mammogram & the emotions and fear will set in again. The only time of year my heart skips a beat, stomach is knotted, palms are sweating and I literally want to barf! So I will be brave & positive on that day each year! I am not thankful for my breast cancer but I am thankful for what my breast cancer has taught me!