I am 33 years old and I am a proud breast cancer survivor. Had I been in my daughter's place, I could have been a previvor.
Who is a previvor?
A previvor is someone who would be preventative of cancer, a person who has more knowledge about their family history and wants to/ or is taking steps to be proactive and is battling cancer even before it strikes. To most people, cancer is a killer. It is. But the biggest weapon against this killer is information. If you are well informed, half the battle is won right there.
My mom had not gotten her mammogram done until the age of 52. WHY? because her daughter was diagnosed of breast cancer at 28 and was helping her fight it. At 52, my mom learned that 1 out of 8 women in the USA (I do not have the stats from around the world) is diagnosed of cancer. Thanks to research and INFORMATION and medical help, the mortality rate from cancer is on the decline. We wouldn't know all this unless I had gone through Cancer. But we have the resources to know more and get help before we actually go through this.
It was the 11Th day of January in 2008 when I read an article about breast cancer in the Glamour magazine. Of course, mine had to be a fashion magazine. I told a couple of friends that I have a lumpy feeling in my right breast. I knew inside my heart that the article had made me think that way. I saw my gynecologist on the 15th and she thought that since I was still a new mom, it could be fibroid from when I was breast feeding. I went home, read more on breast cancer and the lumps and found I have another lumpy cluster under my right arm. Now, my husband was also alarmed. He had read about breast cancer because some football player's wife, Bret Farve to be precise... had had it. Of course... in my husband's case following sports is also informative....
My gynecologist had wanted me to have an ultrasound anyway. I had problems getting an appointment with any ultrasound facility due to my age. My husband was getting restless and asked me to see our primary care, Dr. Radha Kumar and thanks to her quick judgment and prompt action that I found one of the best doctors I have ever met, Dr. Swaminathan. On Jan 22nd I went into his office... I was still thinking that it is NOTHING. Nothing at all. His office had a lot of cancer related magazines and I smirked when I looked to see really old people sitting next to me. I said to myself... Cancer is not for me. I was filling out a form there that asked me all about my medical family history. Who knows all that? I called my mom and asked her of her history. No breast cancer in our family. But I did learn that my kind is susceptible to fibroids in the uterus later in the 40s.
So, I sat there at the Doctor's office until they called me in for an ultrasound. He says he's not sure if he can see anything alarming and would like to do a biopsy. I said it is alright. He asked me if I had a ride home or would if I like to call my husband. I said I'll try, but I am OK. You can go ahead with that biopsy. I had no idea what biopsy was until he took out 7-9 needles and told me they were going to be inserted in my right breast. He kept apologizing for having to do this on me and I kept thinking that this is all soon going to be over. I had other things on my mind which were more important.... like getting my daughter used to day-care, starting my career back again after that day care thing is settled.... and gosh... now this? I am thinking the worst it could be is some fibroid that we can remove with surgery. I am not scared at this moment of surgery since I've already had a c-section with Sasha. (In my heart I was a little scared of surgery). My husband came to pick me up and was very upset. He went into the doctor's room and burst into a crying hysteria. I felt sad for him and not sad for me yet because I thought nothing was really wrong with me. He was just being over-protective.
My reports were to come in later and I had to see the Doctor again on the 29th of January, 2008. In the mean time I was told that if there was any cancerous finding or not, they'd like it if I get a surgery scheduled, after the reports are out, to get the lumps out anyway. My husband who got a grip by now suggested that we should have my mom come from India and help us if there was a surgery coming up. I called my mom and told her to be ready to come here anytime after Jan 29 in-case I need a surgery and that it was not a do or die situation right now.
Jan 29 - Highly malignant metastatic breast cancer. Tears? A lot of them. I have a baby girl... not even 2.
Confirmed second opinion... date of which I do not remember.
Feb 5 - Mom arrives ( no one else back in Delhi knows yet)
Feb 6 - Surgery... lumpectomy to remove breast cancer lumps found on pathology report along with the lumps found under the arms. All my lymph nodes are removed to prevent further spreading of any cancer cells, but putting me at risk for lymph edema...later in life.
Feb 18- Another surgery to remove margins that were still cancerous and insert a port-a-cath in my left side of the chest. This port a cath is inserted in your chest because you are someone who is going to be getting heavy chemotherapy. This port-a-cath was really painful, but now I miss it... It became a part of me since I had it in my body for two years. It was my buddy for the rest of the cancer treatment journey.
In between these dates whatever I went through, I could write a book on it. I'll do that later in life. Someday. But I did learn that mental hallucinations are not just a part of horror movies. They come with breast cancer too.
More to come.....