RUEANN'S STORY

"I knew the moment the doctor said she wanted to do a biopsy that is was my turn for this dreaded disease...

 

I have a different story than that of my mom, sister and relatives, I had my first mammogram at age 30.  I went through all the paperwork and letters to the insurance company to get it covered, but I knew either way it had to be done.  Then a funny thing happened… I lost track of 4 years and didn’t have another mammogram until 2011, only after my sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Hard to believe a person with such a vast family history (grandmother, aunts, cousins, sister and mother- a three-time survivor!) would ‘forget’ to go in for a mammogram.

I knew the moment the doctor said she wanted to do a biopsy that is was my turn for this dreaded disease.  I kept the news from my sister, Tammy, during my early stage appointments.  I couldn’t bear the thought of having her worry about me while she was knee deep in chemo.  Our cousin, Deanne, fielded all my phone calls and questions.  A few appointments in, I told my mom who had been re-diagnosed with cancer in her remaining breast.  It was so much for all of us to even comprehend… I mean all of us in the same time frame… crazy!

The reason my story differs is because I am a poster girl (okay woman) for early detection, early cure!  I was diagnosed with Intraductal Carcinoma InSitu, or DCIS.  It is the earliest form of breast cancer.  Lucky me, right?!  I remember having the appointment when we heard the diagnosis.  I told my husband, ‘I’m lucky’ he couldn’t help but respond with ‘WHAT?!’  My response was ‘yes… it’s been found… we can get it taken care of and move on!’  Funny thing when you run into your sister in the hospital after your diagnosis because she was on her way to chemo…  again, crazy!  I knew from the beginning that I was going to have a double mastectomy.  I didn’t have a major attachment to my breasts.  After all, for my whole life all I had heard about was breast cancer.  My feeling was to get rid of them!

I had a wonderful team of surgeons, nurses and a great oncologist (who I am proud to call my friend) beside me through it all.  I look back now and I have forgotten about the not so fun parts of it… the tubes, the stitches and my reaction to tape.  Yes.  Tape.  But to this day I have a hard time calling myself a cancer survivor because I didn’t have to endure what so many others have.

I feel truly blessed to have been able to go through this journey with my wonderful husband and two sweet baby girls.  They know about my numerous surgeries and I am not afraid to show them what I look like, I believe in having open communication with them about the process even at their young age.  My mom and sister knew exactly what I was going through.  They listened to me complain, even though they were going through much worse than I was.  The support from ALL of my family members will never be forgotten.

After my surgeries, I felt the need to give back… to pay it forward.  I had been lucky enough to have so many resources and so much support that I wanted to give others the same.  That was it…Pink It Forward was born.  Our journey thus far has been greater than I could have ever imagined, the responses from our recipients makes it all worthwhile!

-RueAnn

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