In honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to share some of my story. You see I never in a million years would have thought that I would be affected by this terrifying disease. We had no cancer in my family. Imagine that, it was me that broke that run, overachiever that I am, lol. I eat tons of vegetables and fruit. I limit my meat intake. I don’t eat a lot of dairy. I go for my 3-D mammogram and ultrasound faithfully every year. I go for my yearly gynecological visit faithfully every year. I do not abuse alcohol. I work out all the time and have a healthy body mass index and % body fat. I never had children and depending on what study you look at, that is either a plus or a minus.
So here I am, doing the renovations on the building that is to be my brand new karate school while working full time. I am trying to fit in all my yearly appointments because I know once I start the school, this will be near to impossible. I go for my yearly gynecological appointment thinking let’s just hurry up and get this over with because I have things to do. My doctor is talking to me as she is doing the exam and stops dead in what she is saying. She asks me if I have felt this lump in my breast before. I was like what lump? She has me feel the lump. I write it off that it is a cyst. She asks me when I am scheduled for my mammogram and encourages me to go right away. I had an appointment in the next month or so and told her I would wait.
Over that weekend, I started getting concerned. I called her to put the order in for a diagnostic exam so that I could schedule it earlier. Insurance thing. I was busy when I scheduled it, I waited a couple of weeks because again I was busy with the renovations. This was a very inconvenient time. I did a lot of the work myself with the help of my husband and friends. My doctor’s office keeps calling asking if I have the test scheduled, encouraging me not to put it off.
Finally the day of the testing comes. I get a call from my doctor’s office again, when am I going? I remember thinking all right already, I have my appointment this afternoon. I am at the appointment. I walked in there thinking, after this I will be relieved because it will just be a cyst. It can’t happen to me, I have none of the risk factors. I go into the Mammogram, the nurse is very upbeat. She is telling me that it happens all the time, this test will hopefully prove it benign. She puts me back in the waiting area. My heart is racing. She comes back in and tells me the doctor wants more images. I think to myself, that’s not good. Back to the waiting area. Women are coming and going. I want to be one of those women leaving carefree. They come to get me to do an ultrasound. The nurse stays on that one area where they found the lump. Click, picture, click, picture, click picture. I can feel my heart in my throat. She says she is finished and tells me to wait in the room in case the doctor needs more images. I am now texting my husband, he is asking me if I want him there. I keep telling him no, I am ok, resolved to be brave, Black Belt training kicking in, never back down, stay strong, no fear, dig in mentally, meditative breathing to calm the body and mind. Waiting for what seemed to be hours, the doctor and the nurse come in and tell me it is definitely not a cyst, it is an abnormality that needs to be biopsied. Now to the Consulting Room ( I hate the Consulting Room, my experience has been the news you get in there is never good.) I am talking with my Navigator. She is an amazing person. She tells me that the odds are 80% benign to 20% cancer for the biopsy. I remember telling her that I will take those odds. They are trying to facilitate the biopsy for that very afternoon. They said I may have to wait until the following week. I think I told them that I was not leaving until they did the biopsy. My doctor’s office, awesome as always gets the orders to the center and gets the insurance buy in. They move around appointments and fit me in. At this point my husband who did not know exactly the office I was in this medical center is walking the halls and is asking people for me. He finds the office. They bring him into the room with me. I see him as he appears behind the staff member who brings him in, he is white as a ghost. He is extremely worried. He sits next to me holding me tight. They are ready to take me into the room again to do the biopsy. They numb everything, the doctor is very skilled and quick in his movements. Biopsy is done. The waiting continues until the middle part of the following week. That is when my husband and I found out I had invasive ductal carcinoma-Cancer. Honestly for that appointment, I could not tell you what the doctor said after “You have Cancer”.
So why I am I telling you only this part of my journey right now. I know how we as women are, we put everything and everyone ahead of us. It is our nature to take care of everyone else first. I write this today because I realized even though everything worked out for me, I know that it might not have and the time I waited could have significantly impacted the results that I had. In honor of October Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I strongly encourage you to make yourself a priority:
1) Go to your yearly gynecological visit.
2) Go for your Mammogram and Ultrasound Testing
3) Exercise, Eat Healthy, and Perform Self-Exams
4) Limit alcohol intake
5) Practice good stress management
6) Forgive yourself and others (the resentment and negative energy we carry only hurts us)
7) Most of all show ourselves Love, Compassion and Respect
I was so fortunate to have amazing friends that were survivors, Seymour Pink, my friends and family that helped me through. To pay that back, I am here to help. I am honored and happy to talk with women, their families and their friends that are travelling this journey. I experienced the power of talking with a survivor first hand. It gives Hope and Courage. I am happy to pay that back and pass that on. Be well. Live Your TOP Life. –Master Ellen from TOP Martial Arts and Fitness For Life