When my surgeon asked me on Dec. 23, 2005, “Did you come alone?” I knew instinctively what she was going to tell me. After five mammograms and two needle biopsies, I wasn’t hopeful about the verdict.
When she said, “You have breast cancer,” it sent a chill through my body, as if the finger of death had touched me. Though stunned, I left her office at Deaconess Hospital that afternoon, determined to win this battle and live.
Having lost a 28-year-old daughter-in-law to breast cancer, and several friends, I knew the terrible effects of the disease.
I cried most of the way home. But I got a grip on things, fixed my makeup, and headed straight for Barnes & Noble and bought Breast Cancer for Dummies. Education always has been my first line of defense against any kind of personal crisis.
I chose the aftermath of the diagnosis as a time for reading the Dummies book and considering what I would hope to accomplish in an uncertain future. I also chose to be vocal and spread the message that this is a disease women, and men, can overcome with early detection.
The incredibly painful tests were administered. The invasive surgery was performed in mid-January 2006, to remove the large cancer cell.
My surgeon, Dr. Teresa Shavney, one of my daughter’s best friends, was ecstatic when I came out from under the anesthesia, and told me, “We saved the breast.