This week will mark my third-year anniversary as a breast cancer survivor. I will never forget the day of March 12, 2008 when I received a call from my doctor that my biopsy was positive for breast cancer. My first reaction was to try killing the messenger. I screamed at my poor doctor, insisting her prognosis was wrong. I explained that my mother--a registered nurse--told me I would never get breast cancer because it didn't run in our family genes. So surely, this was all a mistake.
Looking back, I realize convincing myself that my mother's beliefs somehow trumped a doctor's diagnosis was nothing but major denial. I also remember lashing out at my boss after that phone call and abruptly driving home. Suddenly, my whole life was shrouded in fear. And unfortunately, with each succeeding doctor visit, MRI and Pet Scan, the news kept getting worse. The tumor in my left breast was 5 centimeters, it had spread to the lymph nodes and I had a small tumor in my right breast as well.
When all was said and done, I had to go through chemo first to "get the cancer under control" in the words of Dr. Pronovost. Then I would have a mastectomy, followed by radiation. A year later in March, I had another mastectomy followed by three reconstructive surgeries. It was a long haul. I finally finished up with everything just last year.
So even though I'm a three-year survivor, It hasn't been that long since some kind of operation hasn't interferred with my life. I have to confess that I've recently become obsessed with survival rate for my type of breast cancer--stage three. Supposedly, I have a 50/50 chance of making it to the five-years survivor mark. That doesn't sound good.
That's when I start over-analyzing every ache and pain in my body, and over-thinking why that cold I had three weeks ago lasted so long. I still get tired more easy, so I allow myself to sleep a lot. I'm fortunate that I live alone and not victim to a crying baby or some guy tossing and turning beside me all night.
Anyway, it's been three years, I'm still counting and I'm just grateful to be alive.