What a difference a year makes. For those that were introduced to me in this magazine a year ago, you already know that my story about breast cancer is one of early detection. I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer a month after my 50th birthday in 2013. It was definitely a blow to my otherwise healthy life. After a partial mastectomy that included breast reconstruction (yep, I’m half the size I used to be), I went through radiation. I was blessed that chemotherapy was not needed so from the outside, I looked the same. No hair loss, no weight loss (unfortunately), no extended hospital visits. Only a few family and friends were made aware and they were my support system – that is, until the article a year ago. I thank the wonderful, beautiful publisher of Virginia Woman Magazine, Dorri Scott, for her vision to educate women and let us tell our stories. I now receive texts, emails and calls from friends telling me that they made their annual mammogram appointments.
It is a badge of honor and courage to make sure that you go every year, without pause. My story last year focused on not being afraid of the answer from your doctor. I humbly admit that after I went through breast cancer, I was afraid to continue with my annual mammograms. I didn’t want to know the answer, good or bad. After two years of ‘skipping’ the annual appointment, I had the courage to again pick up the annual ritual in March of this year, at the encouragement of my general physician, Dr. Natasha Simmons-Wyllie. It was a happy day when I received the call that all was okay for another year. Lesson learned: Don’t put it off because early detection is the key to survival.
I am thankful that my health continues to improve every day. I have had several speaking engagements where I’ve been able to tell my story. I always add in the part about seeking emotional help because breast cancer is devastating to women. Our breasts are such a major part of our lives, beginning at a young age when we either become a C cup real fast, or stay an A cup for the rest of our lives. I went from a D cup to a B cup after surgery. I still look down sometimes and think, “What happened to my prized possessions?” The biggest difference in my life is that I am very happy to unsnap my bra at the end of the day and let the girls run free. I know, too much information, but I am amongst friends! I’m still healing, both emotionally and physically, but the scars are a constant reminder of what I went through. At the end of the day, I am thankful, grateful, faithful and all the other ‘fuls that came with early detection. I again encourage everyone to not be afraid of the answer. Make that appointment today!