The idea of breast cancer wasn't new to me when I felt a lump in my breast three months after I missed my scheduled mammogram in 2000 (my cousin had been treated for breast cancer and I had done walks to raise money for the disease). Still, I didn't think it applied to me so I waited a couple of weeks before I called my doctor.
When I realized I needed to have a double mastectomy, I couldn't decide whether or not to have reconstruction as well. I talked to a friend of a friend who had opted not to have reconstruction; she was very comfortable with her decision, but she described herself as concave rather than just flat.
My healing process from cancer took 9 months. In this period I have changed dramatically, physically as well as mentally. But while the physical change was structured, visible and very expectable (‘you receive chemo ; your hair falls out’), the mental change was and still is unexpected. To my great surprise, I found out that coping with physical symptoms was relatively easy for me. I got used to not having hair, to the metallic taste in my mouth, to the sore muscles, to the scars and even to the absence of body parts. I got used to it because I understood that this was the price I would have to pay in order to reach my goal; my ultimate goal; to be healthy.
I always knew that someday I would hear the words "you have cancer." My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 44 in 1973, and was treated by having a radical mastectomy. She looked like the famous NY Times magazine cover. The following year she had a reoccurrence in the remaining breast tissue and at that time went through radiation.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 1999, a month before my 57th birthday. My tumor was found when I went for my annual mammogram. I was lucky they found it when they did because it was small enough for me to have a lumpectomy and just radiation.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 1993 and it was a great shock to me. I came to SHARE even before I had my surgery because I needed to talk to someone. Then around 2001, I got back in touch with SHARE to volunteer, and I've been working on the Helpline ever since.
When I came to SHARE, I was warmly welcomed by the people here, and I more or less felt at home right away. So I have been volunteering for SHARE for about two years now.
Coming to SHARE really does something to my mental status that gives me a lift.