Last night I attended a relay for life team captain meeting. My friend Jenna had someone cancel on her so she asked me earlier in the day to share my survivor story at the meeting. They are trying to do that this year to bring a more personal touch to these meetings and have everyone remember why we all work so hard to make this a successful event.
Even though I have told my story lots and lots of times I am always nervous to get up in front of people to do it. There were probably about 40ish people or more there. For anyone that knows me, you know I am a crier. I cry when I laugh too hard, cry when I am sad, cry when I am touched, I am even a sympathy crier. I was created this way, so I try to embrace it. It does make it difficult to get out what I want to when I have to compose myself every few sentences while up in front of a large group though. But I made it through and was proud of myself that I didn't just stand up and cry for 5 minuets.
I told them that it had been almost 4 years since I got my cancer diagnosis and that I was 26 when I was diagnosed.
I didn't tell them that even though it has been almost 4 years I still think about that time in my life almost every day.
I told them about how I discovered the lump while I was doing the dishes and reached across myself to turn on the garbage disposal and felt the lump with the inside of my arm. That I made an appointment to see the doctor the next day and went in right away.
I didn't tell them how I laid awake in bed that night with a pit in my stomach feeling like I already knew I had cancer before I even went in.
I told them how the doctor said not to worry that it was probably just fibrosistic breasts and that lots of women have dense breast tissue that will get lumpy during certain times in their cycle. That I should come back in a few weeks if the lump grew or changed shaped.
I didn't tell them how I still worried even though the doctor told me not to.
I told them how I went back in after the weeks passed and my tumor had grown and changed shape. How they scheduled me for an ultra sound and mammogram the next day, which of course was a Friday.
I didn't tell them that my family had been planning a trip to water world with some friends for the previous few weeks that was supposed to be the next day. That I made Jon take the kids anyway while my mom took me to the appointment. That the radiologist there that read my films couldn't have been more cold and distant with me. That she pointed out what a cancer tumor looks like on a picture on the wall and then showed me my own film. My film looked identical to the picture on the wall, bright white with long tentacles spouting off in every direction. That my mother and I help each other and cried while she informed us that I would have to wait until Monday to have my biopsy done and that the results could take a few days after that. That we got in the car and I had a melt down sobbing and screaming. That I had to take a 10 minute time out to stop hyper ventilating. Then I could compose myself long enough to call my husband and tell him that he better be able to get his old job back (he just switched jobs the week prior and we didn't have group health insurance, in fact we had no insurance starting Sept 1st, it was Aug 26th) so we could have health insurance.
I told them that I had a biopsy done the following Monday.
I didn't tell them that it was, at that time, the most horrible thing I had ever experienced. That the entire weekend I had thought that my husband would be able to go back and at least hold my hand during the "procedure" which they didn't allow to happen. That I had to be poked over 15 times with the biopsy needle because they couldn't get their new spring loaded contraption to work so they repeatedly poked without getting a sample. That my breast was black and blue for a week after what I was told would be "no big deal" and that people take and asprin and go back to work. That I had to call my doc for pain pills after I got home that I was on for 2 days.
I told them that I was diagnosed 2 days later, on my twins 2nd birthday.
I didn't tell them that my lovely aunt Holly had dropped her schedule for that week to fly down and support my family and was with me at the house when I got the call from the doctor. She was playing with the kids outside and I was in my room trying to nap. The doctor told me that it was cancer and I needed to find a surgeon right away. He was going to call and set up an appointment with a local office and call back. That when I got off the phone with the doctor I curled up in a ball on my bed and sobbed, alone.
I didn't tell them, but I am sure that they knew, that it was the worst day of my entire life. That I felt I was handed a death sentence on a day that 2 years prior was one of the best in my life. That cancer took that special day for me and ruined it. That I thought I was going to die and I wondered if my babies would ever have a replacement mom. I wondered if that person would ever be able to love them the way I loved them. That I was angry at the people that kept calling to check on me and I didn't want to have to keep telling the callers the bad news. That I wanted to run screaming through the streets, why me?
I told them that I did 6 months of chemo therapy, mastectomy surgery, 6 weeks of radiation, and a number of reconstructive surgeries.
I didn't tell them that I had never felt so weak in my life. That I lost my hair and people starred at me when I was out in public. That I had horrid reactions to my chemo treatments. That I never knew I could be in as much pain as I was after reconstructive surgery.
I told them that the first year I did relay I was in the middle of doing radiation and it was an experience I will never forget. I told them how I have enjoyed seeing relay grow over the last four years and that realy is something that I am very passionate about. I thanked them for being supporters of relay and for their efforts towards this great cause. I told them that someday because of these efforts I know that we will be able to keep this horrible disease from impacting the lives of our children.
And, I truly beleive that we will. I believe in relay and I AM passionate about this cause. I feel so blessed to be here and be one of many of the survivors. I am honored to be able to participate in relay.
Please follow the link on the side bar to help support me in this great cause, because I know with your help we will be able to find a cure for this disease.