"Instead of starting with how my Breast Cancer Journey began, I would like to start with my current state...
Today I am an 8 ½ year Breast Cancer Survivor! I want to thank my family for hanging in there with me and all the doctors and nurses for helping me kick cancers “BUTT”! One might think after 8+ years I should be able to keep my emotions in check…but that might not be the case. So I will tell you right now every time I share my story I don’t make it through without shedding a tear or two or three. I don’t know if there is a magic number of years that will make you feel less scared and guarded after receiving the cancer news, but I will say l do not think of this everyday as I did in the earlier years. On April 1st of this year (2015) my Oncologist said I no longer have to be under her care. Wow, I’ve waited 8 years to hear this. And that is when I truly felt I had Beat Breast Cancer!! I guess there is truth in what they say ‘time will heal’.
So now back to when it all began.
I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in February 2007. Some might ask, ‘what type of cancer’ but I don’t care to remember since I prefer to just move forward and look to the future. To me the type didn’t matter, just getting rid of it was my mission! One thing I do remember was that my Oncologist did say that it was a “common” type of breast cancer which she said was good news. At that time I couldn’t understand why this would have been “good news”. But now looking back and knowing what I know today she knew it was the kind of cancer that responds well to treatment.
I remember almost every tiny detail from the day I found the cancer; through the day we (my husband Rich and I) told the kids that I had breast cancer. At the beginning my world was in such a tail spin that it was hard to focus. But I tried to keep thinking that - my mom beat it and she was a 30 year cancer survivor - and that I too will BE A SURVIVOR. However, it was hard to put out of my mind ‘what if I didn’t beat this and I wouldn’t see my children grow up’. So with that, I decided to take the “dive in head first approach” and do what I could to become cancer free and stay that way. With the support of my husband I decided to have a bilateral mastectomy. Then we received the news from my doctor that she recommended 8 rounds of Chemotherapy. Wow, that blew my mind. I did my best to accept this but after a few chemo treatments I decided to go to the Mayo for a 2nd opinion and there they confirmed that this was the best treatment option. So it was back to Fargo for more chemo where I chose to put my focus on counting down the days to the last treatment, July 17th! This was my own personal “VICTORY” date.
Rich was truly my “ROCK”, along with my kids as they were there for me through it all. I remember he reminded me a lot during the first year, ‘this is just a bump in the road’. Well, he saw it as a bump; I saw it as a MOUNTAIN! I can’t say enough about the support from family and friends in getting me over this MOUNTAIN. Without them I don’t know what I would have done! Their encouragement meant the world to me and gave me the strength to beat this disease.
Looking back now, I remember friends and family asking what they could do to help me. That was really hard to answer. I wanted to be “NORMAL” so to me if I were to accept “help” would mean I was sick and that was NOT how I wanted to be treated. Even though no one ever really treated me differently, it was just something that was going through my mind. As my daughter Kayla can confirm, I did NOT like pink while going through my Breast Cancer journey. It took me a little while to see that PINK wasn’t a bad thing. I now look at the gifts (PINK ones included) that I received years back as my trophy’s showing that I won my battle. And after my cousin Tammy was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, that may have been the true turning point in seeing that PINK was a good thing and not evil. Now I am able to focus on the meaning behind the Pink Ribbon and see how it is truly inspirational. That is why PINK IT FORWARD has become a true passion for me and the rest of the members. It’s interesting that I didn’t know how to tell others what I needed, but when I look back at the items I received, they are similar to what we offer through PINK IT FORWARD today. So Thank You everyone who has supported me and Pink It Forward!"