October 10, 2016 • by Glen Ivy Contributor
On October 5th, 2016 we had the honor of working with 9 beautiful Breast Cancer survivors. They each wrote about their journey in their own words.
A client of mine who became a good friend had been waging a long fight with cancer. She insisted that I promise to never skip a mammogram, something I had not considered important in the past. Sadly, after 18 years she lost the battle.
Not long after, I received a reminder from Kaiser to schedule a mammogram. I remembered my promise and followed through. A couple of days after my screening, my husband and I went to Catalina to do some scuba diving and hiking. I remember how strong and healthy I felt that day. Afterward, upon arrival at home, I listened to a message advising a second appointment and ultrasound. Chills ran through me and I recalled a dream I had on Christmas Day the year before. I dreamt I was a cancer survivor and a spokesperson for some organization. I could not believe this was happening!
Within a couple of days I had a series of mammograms and knew I was in big trouble. The physician suggested an immediate biopsy. After the biopsy, surgery was scheduled. In absolute shock and shaking, I put an ice pack on my chest and went straight to work. After work, I told my husband I had cancer. This was the hardest time of the whole ordeal, afraid of the unknown and upset that my body had let me down after years of taking good care of myself. My doctor convinced me that being in good condition would hasten recovery. He was right.
My friends and coworkers helped me maintain a positive attitude and I focused on the needs of my clients. But, after work I would go to my car and emotionally collapse for a few minutes. Then I employed the same techniques I used to get through bad situations under water: “Maja, stay calm. Think straight. You can do it!” Then I would crank up the radio volume and scream my lungs out singing along with rock and roll singers.
It was less than a month from my first mammogram to surgery. My doctor was very good and I trusted his experience. On the day of surgery, my husband was stressed out so I drove myself. It actually worked out well because I was concentrating on driving instead of worrying. The surgery went well. It was on a Monday and by Wednesday I was walking. By Sunday I was walking my regular five miles, and by Tuesday I was back at work. Every day for five weeks I went for radiation then to work. After work, I went for walks with my husband and made dinner. I was not going to let cancer take over my life.
I was not yet done with radiation when friends encouraged me to join the Race for the Cure. It was such an amazing and emotional experience full of love and support. We ran 5K and I dropped cancer right there in front of Nordstrom!
For about six months, I felt like a road bump detector, feeling every movement, every imperfection in the road. What really helped me was returning to normalcy as soon as I was able to– working, exercising, having a monthly massage, and being surrounded by healthy supportive people. Life is beautiful if you open yourself up to it.
Writing this story brought back some uncomfortable memories and feelings and I almost gave up, but as usual I invoked my self-pep talk: “ You can do it Maja!”
Check out Kimberly’s Story HERE
Check out Kathy’s Story HERE
Check out Debbie’s Story HERE
Check out Janelle’s Story HERE
Check out Crystal’s Story HERE
Check out Mary’s Story HERE
Check out Laura’s Story HERE
Check out Sylvia’s Story HERE