(Some of you may remember a while back when I wrote about having a tumor removed in my breast, if not you can read about it here. That was a little over a month ago and I have recovered and healed well from the surgery however my journey is not over. You all have been so supportive and caring that I just can’t help but share my story with you and in order to do so effectively I will take you back to the day of my surgery)
I will never forget that morning preparing to go into the hospital. I think I barely slept the night before…maybe a few hours. My throat was dry and my stomach ached from not being able to have food or water after midnight. I had never had surgery before so I had no clue what to expect. They hooked me up to a lot of tubes, my mother kissed my forehead and they wheeled me away. They last thing I remember is seeing my doctors face and bright lights in the operating room. I awoke to a kind nurse offering me water and asking what I would like to eat. About an hour later I was sent home to recover and wait…wait for my doctor to call.
My first surgery was on Dec. 14th and the phone call came over a week later on Dec.23rd…right before the holidays. Two days prior I had a conversation with my esthetician whom I told “I really don’t want the call to come before the holidays…because if it’s bad news then my holidays are ruined.” When the phone rang as I was driving that day I think my world stopped. I answered hesitantly recognizing my doctors phone number. Although it wasn’t my doctors voice but the voice of his nurse assistant. “Rachel…I have your pathology results back…”
The rest of the conversation I don’t quite remember all that well, I couldn’t tell you where I was driving to or much of anything. What I can remember is her telling me “I am sorry Rachel but your tumor is a very rare phyllode tumor which occurs in the tissue…it grows very quickly…we need to remove the rest of your breast tissue…” I know there was more to the conversation but my world went blank in those moments, she transferred me to the surgery scheduling department and I was scheduled for another surgery. The next thing I knew I was curled in a ball on my bed crying. All of my fears and gut feelings had came true…
I have breast cancer…
The first step in dealing with anything wrong is accepting it…it took me some time but I can finally say it aloud.
I came to learn that a phyllode tumor is a very rare type of tumor that only occurs in about 1% of breast cancer patients and usually occurs in women over 40…it grows in the breast tissue and grows rapidly. It doesn’t come in stages it is either pre-cancerous or cancerous and the lines between the two are blurred. Regardless of which it is, it is still classified as breast cancer. It does not respond well to radiation or chemotherapy so your best chances are catching it early and removing the breast tissue. Once removed, things are very optimistic and chances of it returning are rare. The chances of someone my age developing this are near impossible but thank God that mine is pre-cancerous however I would be lying if I said I haven’t been scared every day that it could have rapidly become malignant.
My holidays were…well…not the same. Cancer weakens your immune system (hence why I have been sick for almost a month) so I have been exhausted and drained. I understand why they call it a fight…you feel so tired that it becomes a fight to get out of bed and exist in the world. Nothing seemed as important this holiday season as it has before…I just wanted time to spend with my family. However all my friends and families questions just exhaust me even more, I feel like a broken record having to explain it over and over again.
When I finally stopped crying that day of the phone call…I called my doctors office and told them I wanted to come in to talk to my doctor about my options. Back to the dreaded cancer center I went. Back to the sympathetic looks and back to the “wow your young” comments. But I powered through it because I had too many questions that needed answered:how long will I be lopsided for, will they use the same incision, will it come back, will I be able to breast feed one day, will I be able to get an implant, should I have both removed to be safe…all questions circulating in my head.
My doctor assured me that he could use the same incision, felt it necessary to only remove the tissue in the one; known as a wide local excision, I will be lopsided for some time however if it doesn’t come back within two years I should be safe for life. An implant can come eventually and I will be able to breast feed since my ducts have not been jeopardized. However I will still need mammograms for the rest of my life and I can’t even begin to think of how living with only one breast will make me feel. I have so many fears still. I am scared that it might come back. I am scared to lose both breast eventually. What if I need radiation, what if I need a full mastectomy eventually. So many what ifs but I am going to fight through them the best I know how.
As you read this I am probably already recovering from surgery…it is scheduled today at 8am. Hopefully I will recover quickly, fight through living lopsided, only need one more surgery to balance me out and I will continue on with my life.
Part of me can’t believe this is happening to me and I actually can’t believe I am sharing it for the world to see. I am usually a guarded person and I do not like people to know my personal battles, it’s quite funny how much I actually share on this blog compared to what I actually tell me friends. Truth is I don’t want anyone to treat me differently and I don’t know if I can handle the looks people will give me. Even though I have so much going on I do not want to give up on this baby of mine here on the internet. You all make me happy and I love my blog. So in the coming months I will be posting when I can, as I have been, updating you on my fight but not as consistently as I would like to.
This hasn’t been an easy fight for me but I am not going to lie that I have come to learn that a lot of people are not handling the situation as well as I am.
My parents feel heartbroken and helpless…a parent seeing their child sick and not being able to help them must be excruciating.
So to my parents I want to give you strength: I pray you have the strength to get through this along with me, the strength to realize there is nothing you can do to change anything and the strength to know I will get through this.
My friends feel strange and lost…they don’t exactly understand how someone they know could be going through this. I am sure they don’t know what to say or how to act.
So to my friends I want to give you comedic relief: I pray that you know I need your smiles and laughter to get me through this, I do not need you to say or do anything other than just keep being my friend that knows how to laugh with me.
The rest of my family feels scared and nervous, half of them have lost someone dear to them in this battle and don’t want to do it again.
So to my family I want to give you peace: I pray that you have faith in God that I will fight through this and the peace of mind that I will be alright and you will not loose another family member to cancer.
The guy who loves me more than anything has been a rock and my strength through it all and I know this has to be the hardest for him…even though he will never show it.
So to him I want to give you my heart: I pray that you know how much I care about you and want to give you all the love that you have given me in return to help me through this.
And to all of you…thank you for supporting me, my life and my blog. You all hold a place in my heart and I can’t thank God enough for everything he has given me. Like I said before this experience has made me slow my life down and look at what matters in life, and now it couldn’t be more than true. This will not be the last post about my journey and I thank you all for following along the ride.
This video has helped me through everything lately and I wanted to share it all with you