October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (In addition to Black Movie Month.) This blog post is a tribute to my mom who conquered breast cancer last year.
She’s always been a very independent and strong woman. A trooper and survivor. (She’s been through a lot in her life.) So maybe that’s why it’s no surprise that she faced breast cancer head on. And won.
I asked her if I could share her story so that it might help other women. Every 12 minutes a woman in America dies of breast cancer. Please get a yearly mammogram to protect yourself. Don’t become a statistic.
My Mom’s Battle with Breast Cancer
Here’s her recount:
“During my mammogram in August 2009, a suspicious spot showed up. I then had a subsequent mammogram in February 2010, six months later. The spot had grown. From the size of a dime to a nickel. I had no lumps or bumps. Just a small dark circle.
“Most doctors first perform a biopsy on suspicious spots like mine. Then they remove the tissue if the biopsy tests positive for cancer. Based on the advice from a friend, I requested to have a biopsy and the tissue removed at the same time. This way a second incision wouldn’t have to be done.
“My spot turned out to be invasive ductal cancer. 65% of woman who get breast cancer get this kind. But every case is different. In my case, I had lymph nodes removed from under my right arm. The nodes were found to be benign (non-cancerous). I also decided to have a mastectomy to be extra safe. Because cancer is a funny thing. It may come back. It may not. Or it may return to a different part of the body. My cancer doctor also persuaded me to have four (4) treatments of chemotherapy, citing it would give me a 65% better chance of my cancer never returning.
“Each of my four (4) chemo treatments lasted three (3) days with 3-week breaks between treatments. The first day consisted of sitting in a comfortable leather chair with an IV attached to my arm for three (3) hours. There was a big flat screen TV with a remote in the room, and bathroom breaks were not a problem. Light refreshments were also offered. The second and third day of chemo I’d take a pill in the morning and one in the evening to prevent swelling.
- “I never once got nauseated. And I was able to drive myself home like the nurse said. The only complication was a blood clot after my first treatment. I noticed the vein in my arm seemed a little swollen and showed my doctor. An ultrasound confirmed that I had a clot, and I was given a blood thinner. I also lost all of my hair 22-days after my first treatment and experienced mild cramping in my toes.
“I had my annual mammogram in April 2011, and there was no trace of cancer. My last exam was in August 2011, and the doctor said, “See you in one year. Take 100 mgs of vitamin D daily, and have a happy life!”
“I would advise all women at age 40 to start getting mammograms each year like I’ve done for the last twenty years. Because the x-ray caught the cancer at an early stage and saved my life.”
Knowing my mother had breast cancer motivated me to get my first mammogram last year. I’m rapidly approaching age 40 and will definitely get annual mammograms. (Along with an annual pap smear, dental checkup and eye exam.) Fortunately, my health insurance covers these exams. For persons without insurance, many organizations have programs and events that provide free mammograms, like Bebahi‘s annual Breast Fest (shout out to Tynisha).
Lankenau’s Breast Center
Where should you get your mammogram? If you live in the Philadelphia, PA, or surrounding areas, I highly-highly recommend the Breast Center Lankenau Hospital. Not only do they have the latest, state-of-the-art equipment (mammograms are done digitally), you are treated like a queen. It’s a gorgeous facility too. And they sponsor free events, like the “Ladies’ Night Out” event I attended in June of 2010. It featured a “roundtable discussion on topics related to women’s health and breast health.” It was very informative and I received free literature, sample products, and even dinner and dessert! If you have breast cancer, this is definitely the center to check out (watch videos here).
Alternative Cancer Treatments
While my mom conquered cancer the traditional route (surgery and chemo treatments), there are also alternative cancer cures to consider. Click here to learn about Gerson Therapy. In general, many types of cancer, like prostate cancer and ovarian cancer, can be resolved by immediate surgery. Especially if there is early detection. The surgery removes the cancer. And no chemotherapy & radiation is needed. A lot of the alternative cancer treatments are actually great for “preventing” cancer too, like taking Vitamin D daily and drinking fresh juiced veggies. Unfortunately heredity is also a reason in some forms of cancer. And you really can’t do anything about that.
So during this month of Breast Cancer Awareness, why not learn a little more about breast cancer? Chances are you know at least one person who has or had breast cancer. Look for ways to get involved and help spread good information! You can share this article. Or read books or watch videos on the topic. One great resource is a DVD called, “Breast Cancer: The Path of Wellness and Healing.” (Order here.)
Question: In what ways did you take part in breast cancer awareness this month? You can leave a comment by clicking here.