My story is about the importance of early detection. March 1, 2013 is forever etched in my brain. I listened to a voice message on my phone earlier in the day from my gynecologist, Dr. Gloria Ivey-Crowe. It was a Friday and I didn’t bother to call back because I was certain that the result of the biopsy I had a few days earlier was negative. No way did I have breast cancer. NOT ME. I received a call back late in the afternoon and was told that I did indeed have Ductal Cancinoma In Situ, DCIS.
Thankfully this is an early stage and is referred to as stage zero breast cancer or pre-cancer with a 99% survival rate. The diagnosis that I had an early stage did not minimize the shock, worry or pain of being told I had breast cancer a month after celebrating my 50th birthday. NOT ME. I watched a few years earlier while one of my good friends, Trish, battled and survived Stage 4 breast cancer so I was aware that my faith in God and strength as a woman would get me through it as it did her. Again, that did not minimize my pain. NOT ME. I am not afraid to admit I cried – a lot.
The next couple of months after the diagnosis were a blur of doctor’s appointments, decisions to make, a painful partial mastectomy with breast reconstruction, recovery, and healing. Two years later, I have days where I am still in pain.
I went through radiation after surgery, but didn’t need chemotherapy so I did not lose my hair, the universal sign that a person is going through cancer. I had no outward evidence so many that saw me during this time didn’t know and I didn’t share. NOT ME. That was a mistake because I missed some much-needed support beyond my loving husband Paul, daughter Lindsey and a few close friends and family.
My advice to women reading my story is to schedule your annual mammograms. Don’t skip the appointment or the follow up because you are afraid of the answer. I am a believer now because I know it could have been a lot worse. I am alive and well and have a testimony. YES, ME!
By: Nancy Finley Barbour