Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted by a contributing writer and does not represent the views of CURE Media Group.
For starters, I was a healthy female. Ten years before my cancer diagnosis, my “sickness” was a common cold, maybe the flu. I was a professional commercial driver for 25 years before cancer took my future away from me. I wasn't having any complications or pain, I just decided that I had been on the road for years and hadn't had a wellness exam, so I decided to go get a check up.
On April 6, 2014, my gynecologist called back, requesting that I go get an ultrasound because I had an abnormal mammogram. The next day, I went and got an ultrasound to find out I needed to get a biopsy. I started to worry a little, but not much, because I kept saying, “I don't have breast cancer like my father's two sisters had.”
So a couple of days later, I got a call that changed my whole life. I was told I had a 2 cm mass of cancer in my left breast. I screamed, I cried, I denied, I cried more and then I was lost. I didn't know what to do or what was my next steps. Then it began, hearing my primary care physician tell me, “Oh it's just a little knot, you won't need chemo. They'll just do a lumpectomy and you'll be back to work in three to four months.”
It made it sound so simple and easy until I talked to the breast surgeon. She saw things in a whole new perspective. The density in my breast was a concern, and she felt I should do a mastectomy and take a BRCA test, which I had never heard of, to determine if my cancer was hereditary and if I would have to have a double mastectomy and my ovaries removed. Boy this started sounding more serious than just a little surgery and I'll be back to work in three months kind of deal. The tears started again, severely, added by stress and out-of-control thoughts of losing my life to this disease.
The 35 days it took to find out if my BRCA test was positive for the mutation was the longest, most depressing month I had ever endured. When the test came back, it was good news that I would only have to lose one breast. Again I was convinced by my surgeon that with my diagnosis, I shouldn't have to endure chemotherapy. So after the surgery, they ran another biopsy on the breast and lymph nodes to see if it the cancer is aggressive or spreading. The most shocking thing was that I ended up triple-positive breast cancer, instead of the first biopsy diagnosis they had given me before surgery, which was positive, negative, positive. That was really scary and now all the research I had done had to be restarted to see what was expected of this type of cancer.
After finding this information out, I was sent to an oncologist and was told I needed a year or so of chemotherapy and hormonal treatments, which meant I would lose my hair, lose my mind and everything else I could lose. Before I found all this out, I lost my father-in-law to cancer on March 9, 2014, had a break up with my husband of seven years, who decided to give up on me on Dec. 8. 2015, and the stress level went out the roof.
So now I'm homeless, having to face chemotherapy alone with no job and no man. What a hard life to deal with, being all alone with no family in the area. They live 1,000 miles away, so I had to turn into a real fighter if I wanted to survive. I turned to God to help me through because there was no way I could do it alone. He helped me make it through my days and sent me to food pantries. People that I had met helped me with gas money, gave me a place to sleep some nights free of charge, and helped me to doctor appointments when I couldn't drive myself. I have never asked for help until I got cancer and learned how.
The government wouldn't and still to this day hasn't given me any assistance but food stamps, and I'm still suffering with neuropathy, chemo brain, a lot of body and bone pain, lack of energy and stress to where I think I'm suffering from PTSD. Now my primary care physician has me seeing a psychiatrist and rheumatologist, who says I have three slipped disks in my back. I have bad muscle spasms in my left arm and all kinds of pain. This pain is so severe that I can barely drive my vehicle because it hurts so bad once I get out and walk.
My point and moral to this story is that my team of doctors had me believing that I would be just fine and my normal self again after surgery and treatment. That is the biggest lie anyone could tell a person. So in the future, be honest with your patients, listen to them when they're telling you they're in pain. Stop sugarcoating the truth and just be honest.