By Alison Moen
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2022. I had my annual mammogram on June 9th, 2022 and exactly one week later on June 12th, a Friday, I received a letter from the hospital letting me know there was an abnormality on my mammogram.
“Great!” was my first initial response. Slightly irritated because this happens almost every year thanks to having "dense breast tissue." What is even more frustrating is that I learned of this through a standard letter from the hospital and not from my doctor. About three days later I received a call from my doctor explaining what they found, using words I had never heard before like spiculated edges.
So here we go...panic, fear, sadness, and anger- just a few of the emotions that were running through my mind. A few days later came the ultrasound, then the MRI, then the biopsy. Then the waiting. Whoever thought it was a good idea to make a woman wait seven days for the results of a simple biopsy should be fired.
So after a week of waiting and waiting, and then for almost two hours at the surgeon's office, he finally comes in. His exact words, "We have some things to talk about." In all honesty, I wasn't surprised; I had already convinced myself it was breast cancer because well… WHY NOT?
This isn't my first cancer rodeo. I was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma about 11 years ago. Been in remission for several years after tumor removal, radiation, and a bone marrow biopsy. But it is my first breast cancer rodeo and quite honestly, I was not interested. I didn't want the label. I didn't want my friends to treat me any differently. Because it’s cancer. The first response is always to feel sorry for someone. I don’t want that! FIGHT alongside me and wipe my tears when I need it!
I didn't want to die.
I am not a grandmother yet. My boys haven't settled down yet, my youngest is still in college, and what about my husband?? We were being robbed of our future. To say I was upset would be an understatement. I was digging my grave and planning my funeral.
Until I listened to my surgeon who honestly is a blessing from above. I can only hope that all women have a surgeon like this. He is AMAZING.
Long story short, I was diagnosed with stage 1B. My tumor measured at 1.2cm. I had a lumpectomy and he removed two lymph nodes, one of which had cancer in it. I am two treatments away from finishing radiation. I was blessed to not have to have chemotherapy. I will be taking Arimidex, an aromatase inhibitor (AI) since my tumor characteristics were hormone driven, for five years and praying hard we never have to go through this again.
I long for the person I was prior to my diagnosis. I miss the carefree feeling. The feeling of finally being empty nesters. Cancer took more than just some tissue from me. I am working my way back, and as my skin begins to heal, I hope to forget some of this time. Like the nuclear test- that was fun. The terrible itchy rash from radiation and the scars.
I am working to overcome the fear and embrace the new normal.
I know I am blessed because in the grand scheme of things, my case wasn't as bad as it could have been. I want to give back. I want to be there for women who don't have anyone to lean on. I realize my healing needs to start from the inside and being a part of this community will help me do that.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for letting me share my story.
Thank you for sharing your story, Alison. SBC loves you!
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