Conquering Breast Cancer with Strength, Hope and Joy
“I love the photo of survivors Michele Moore, Sandy Claus, and me. It shows that breast cancer can be conquered and won’t stop us from living normal, happy lives! We can laugh at it now. I’m so proud to be walking with my friends and family in the best 5K race in the Quad Cities!”
by Breast Cancer Survivor Mary Miller, ORA Orthopedics, who plans to participate in Race For the Cure on June 13, 2015
When I started walking the Race for the Cure, I never imagined I’d end up being “one of those women.” My mom had breast cancer, so that gave me added incentive to participate and then circumstances got even more relevant. I had a mammogram in March, 2009, and it showed some calcific densities, so the radiologists did several different biopsies to test tissue. During the week after the Race for the Cure that year, I got a call at work from my surgeon giving me the scary news that I had breast cancer. All my life I was terrified of the word “cancer,” thinking it meant certain death.
Walking in the Komen Race for the Cure, I feel like part of a community of survivors, fighters, and supporters with me. All the women wearing pink shirts, some with scarves on their heads to cover their baldness, some in wheelchairs – in different stages of treatment and all smiling. It’s such a great feeling. While I was going through the testing, mastectomies, axial node dissection, chemo, then reconstruction, I thought it would never end. But it did, and now I feel like myself again.
My cancer was caught early, and I had several choices to pick from, but I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy so I wouldn’t have to worry as much that it would come back. My oncologist had a proven treatment regimen ready for me, and I have less than 2 years to go. The time has gone by so fast, I can’t believe that next month it will be the 5-year mark.
A Second Chance
After my treatment was over, I felt like I had a second chance. My mom, dad, and brother each had different forms of cancer and passed away within 3 months of diagnosis, so I believe I’ve beat it, thanks to an early diagnosis and great treatment from great doctors. Cancer doesn’t mean a death sentence for most people.
My advice for women – get a yearly mammogram! I had no lumps or signs of cancer. It was the digital mammogram that alerted the doctors to a possible problem. It could have grown, undiagnosed for years until I would have felt a lump, and then it would probably have spread and been very hard, if not impossible, to cure. For women (and men) who receive the news that they have breast cancer – it’s scary, but there have been so many advances in treatment in the last decade or so.