I have mentioned this before… my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, here is my side of the experience.
Almost nine years ago I had my 21st birthday, and like any 21st it was memorable. I remember going to Gold Reef City with the Radio Presenters I was working with at the time, I screamed my lungs out on the Anaconda, that night my family took me to dinner. We were all together having fun and it was the start of the rest of my life. The next day was the party and I remember my Mom dancing up a storm with us youngsters. Let’s face it my 21st birthday was a memorable one, even if I did have a jumping castle and an ice cream cake.
But the post isn’t about that…
It was only a few days after my birthday that my Mom phoned me to work.
“Kathleen” she said. “I think something is wrong”.
I recall her telling me that she had fluid dripping out of her nipple, no lumps, but I remember telling her in a calm voice, to make an appointment with the Doctor.
I could not take off, but she went to the doctor alone and phoned me when the appointment was done.
“They are sending me for a mammogram and they have taken samples of the liquid.”
The mammogram hurt terribly she says, mostly because her breast was tender and sensitive, but after that they sent her for a scan of the breast as well.
I remember sitting at work, when the phone rang. “Kathleen, they think its Cancer”.
I burst into tears and It was then that I was faced with one of my worst fears.
My Mom could die.
It turned out that the liquid had aggressive cancer cells in and they need to do a mastectomy on the right breast immediately. They could not do the usual biopsy, because, if the cancer cells broke through the nipple tissue to the back of the breast, the cancer would spread and the Doctors were not sure how quickly it would spread. At 58, my Mom, one of the healthiest ladies around, who only went to hospital to have us kids, was going in for major surgery. We heard the news on the 26th of November and on 1 December they were wheeling her into the operating theater.
We had a lovely lady from Reach for Recovery come to our house before the operation. She was a Breast Cancer Survivor and came to chat to us about what to expect and answered all our questions.
I remember after the operation of being over protective of my Mom, I did everything, from making food to helping her with the drainage bottle. The Doctor phoned us at home and said that because of the aggressiveness of the cancer, my mom needed to have the remaining breast removed as well. That happened on 10 December.
They gave my Mom radiation after the surgery and put her on Tomoxifen. Tomoxifen is a hormonal treatment drug, which she had to drink everyday for five years. In the beginning she would see the Oncologist every two weeks, then every two months, and then every six months and now it is a yearly check up.
My Mom is a breast cancer survivor; she is in remission now and that thanks to early detection. Like I said before, she never had lumps or sensitivity or anything. To this day I am so glad she listened to me and went to the Doctor.
Most people who meet my Mom now, don’t know about her cancer and when they do find out about it they are shocked, because if you see her today, you won’t say she was ill at all.
I did ask her once about implants and she said, why go through all that pain? She has tried the prosthetic ones, but she says it hurts. My Mom lives with the scars from the mastectomy everyday, and is not allowed to drive, or carry heavy things because of secondary Lymphedema. The surgeons removed quite a few of her lymph glands because they were not sure if the cancer had spread there or not. According to Wikipedia: “Between 38 and 89% of breast cancer patients suffer from lymphedema due to axillary lymph node dissection and/or radiation.” Lymph glands get rid of the toxins in your body and because she doesn’t have all her lymph glands her arms swell at times. We then have to massage her arms to “move” the toxins out.
It has been a long journey, but, I am proud of my Mom, of all that she has been through and that she still is standing. Not letting this experience get her down. She is one of the lucky ones, because there are women out there who do lose their battle with it.
So, this is my view of my mom’s experience and now you know why I’m in support of Breast Cancer Awareness and because of my Mom’s experience, I have to go for check ups on a regular basis and my first mammogram is scheduled for January next year.