I’m 71 years old, divorced/live in partner, mother of two and grandmother
of five and a retired health care administrator. I enjoy golf, snorkel,
music and clubs.
In January 2020, I noticed a dimple in my right breast. I remembered a
dimple is one of the warning signs of breast cancer, so I called my OB/GYN
and they brought me right in. My MD recommended an ultrasound. At the
ultrasound, the radiologist recommended a biopsy. I asked him if it could
be a cyst. He said no, and I knew right then the Big C was in my future.
My GYN called an hour later to offer his support and best wishes (amazing!)
The day of the biopsy was traumatic. The day before I returned from a cruise
with a dozen of my best friends, happy, but tired. I had to get up early
to travel 2 hours to the funeral of the father of my children. My kids
insisted that I be there for them, and I had no choice but to tell them
that I had to leave immediately after the service to get back for my biopsy.
A double blow to the ones I love most - to lose their father and learn
that their mother has cancer. The biopsy was painful and psychologically
beyond what I could handle that day. I went home and cried.
My GYN referred me to Dr. Taft. I chose to participate in genetic testing.
I had also been diagnosed with rectal cancer several years ago and undergo
treatment quarterly for that. Sure enough, I have a CHEK2 gene. I did
consider bilateral mastectomy and consulted with a plastic surgeon. I
chose to stay with the original recommendation of a lumpectomy. My treatment
included chemotherapy with Herceptin, Perjecta and Taxol for eighteen
weeks and four weeks of radiation therapy.
The Jupiter team has been wonderful in their support and knowledge, and
always very caring. I have used the dietician and nurse navigator services
as well as genetics counselor and MD’s. I follow a Facebook cancer
Message for other women:
Maintain healthy habits, pay attention to your breasts and get screened
regularly. I recently learned that at my age there is a 25% chance of
having breast cancer, even without known risk factors. My cancer is aggressive.
If I hadn’t paid attention to the change in my breast and gotten
diagnosed right away, it might have been too late to turn this around.
I noticed the lump in January when I had a mammogram the prior September.
Friends and family are the BEST support, angels lift me up.
I have been extremely fortunate to have a circle of close friends who check
in with me on a regular basis and offer support. I have a group of girlfriends
that I have traveled with for the past several years. I keep them up to
date on my progress and they send me notes and small gifts of encouragement,
randomly. I know I am in their thoughts and prayers every Thursday when
I have chemo and that helps me face it, especially when I am down. My
neighbors take turns driving me to my chemo treatments. My next door neighbor
lost her husband just as I was starting treatments and told me she wants
to give back by driving me each week. We are supporting each other.
I started this journey just as COVID-19 was shutting most activities down.
Family can’t visit, which has been tough on us all. But we FaceTime
No one raises their hand and volunteers for cancer. I now know what it
means to be living with cancer. There are a large number of women who
have walked this journey and they are all around us, to share their stories
and offer support and encouragement. As I was losing most of my hair,
or when I was having a bad day, people would inquire and I discovered
many friends and neighbors who have/had cancer, husbands who lost their
wives to cancer, or family members both lost and recovered. We gain support
from each other in this journey.
I used to collect angels. This stress has renewed my focus on angels. One
of my traveling girlfriends sent me a survior angel that I keep on my
kitchen counter, along with some of the encouragement cards and love notes.
Town of Jupiter Community Center
200 Military Trail
Jupiter, FL 33458