Disclosure :: our Breast Cancer Awareness series is sponsored by Baton Rouge General.
Ten years later … this is not what is supposed to happen.
The odds were in my favor, or so I thought.
Breast cancer journey #2 is in full swing as I write this. But this isn’t where my story started, or where it will end.
My actual journey with breast cancer began as a daughter. My mom was diagnosed in 2003 at the age of 65, and my world flipped upside down. She opted for a lumpectomy and began her five year daily ritual of Tamoxifen. She had 5 kids along with their spouses, and 16 grandkids, and we had a lot of memories left to make. We were on the road to life without cancer and it felt great!
My Own Diagnosis
Imagine my shock when four years later, I had my own diagnosis of breast cancer. I just thought the world fell apart with my mom’s journey. I had a husband and three young daughters of my own who were very busy with cheer, tumbling, basketball, softball, and piano. I had a full-time teaching job and was in school working on my master’s degree. I did not have time for this in my life, nor did I want any part of it. When my doctor called very early on the morning of January 31, 2007 with the news, I literally dropped to my knees. The next few weeks were a blur as I had a lumpectomy, followed by radiation and then started Tamoxifen for the next 5 years. As I traveled this new journey of my own, I had a new appreciation for what my mom had gone through, and the bond we now shared was precious and painful.
As my year was coming to an end and I was finally back on top of my game, we found that my mom’s cancer had metastasized to her liver and eventually to her brain. For the next 3 and a half years, my mom fought the battle valiantly. I was with her at treatments, and she and my dad stayed with me each week as they drove the 2 hour drive from Alexandria to Baton Rouge for treatment at Mary Byrd. On September 4, 2011, my mom lost her battle just two hours short of her 74th birthday. All of us were by her side, praying, telling stories of our favorite memories, singing her favorite hymns to her, and just loving her. That was the hardest day of my life! I still miss her like crazy and I need her now more than ever.
And now, 10 years later, I am on my second journey with breast cancer.
I actually felt this one myself, but pushed it aside for several months thinking it was no big deal. When I finally called my doctor, I was scheduled the next day for all the tests – mammogram, ultrasound, and chest x-rays, and biopsy. It’s amazing how quickly things move when you are a survivor. Of course, I did not need my doctor to confirm the biopsy results; I already knew. I just needed details to know what I was up against this time. I know this journey well. This time, the treatment was different and not the one I had prayed for. I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction on August 3, and I started chemotherapy on September 6 … the day after my mom’s birthday. There is still another surgery in my future for reconstruction and then I will take Tamoxifen for another 5-10 years. That is another beast in itself and how it affects your body, but I am ready so bring it on!
Not to mention, we experienced the “Flood With No Name” in Denham Springs last August. Not only did my house flood, but so did the elementary school where I am a counselor. Lots of recovery took place this past year. We were finally able to move home the end of March of this year after living in an apartment in Baton Rouge for 8 months. Life can take funny turns and you never see it coming.
But through all of this, I am one blessed lady! My support system of family and friends is pretty awesome! My friends near and far have reached out with cards and texts of encouragement, and they have brought gifts of sunshine, spent time with me and provided food for my family. I have 3 daughters who encourage me with daily messages, laughter, and they are even looking for tattoos we can all get together.
I have an incredible husband who has made every appointment with me since day one for all the tests, visits to the plastic surgeon, my oncologist, my breast surgeon, and my first chemo treatment. He loves me even when I have not been able to love myself, after feeling like I have lost so much physically. His love is truly unconditional and he reminds me daily that I am beautiful and nothing will ever change his love for me. My hair is starting to fall out and that brings on another whole host of emotions. People say it is just hair, but it is my hair. It is part of me, just like my breasts were. It’s a loss that is felt deeply and very personally. Yes, I want to live, and I will fight for that every day. My mom taught me how to be brave. I want to be that example of bravery and faith for my 3 girls. They are my reason to get up every day, and they are why I will fight this and see this through!
My husband Kevin and I have been married for 27 years and we have three beautiful blessings in our daughters, Kourtney (24), Karson (21), and Kallie (18). I am native to Pineville, but moved to Baton Rouge in 1990, when Kevin and I got married. I have been in the educational field for 27 years as a teacher and now a school counselor at a local elementary. I am also an LPC and do private counseling in the evenings after my days spent loving on the kids at my school! This is my passion and my calling in life! My family and I love to spend time together laughing, grilling, swimming, entertaining or just watching movies. Whenever we are together, all is right with the world and I do not need anything else.