By: Katie Austin
Many of you know that I battled breast cancer and have been working hard to keep myself in remission. I have talked a lot about life after cancer, but I thought it would be a good idea to take you back to the beginning. Where it all began so that if you or someone you know find yourself in a similar situation that you will know that you are not alone.
I will never forget the day that changed my life forever. It’s on a day like this that every little detail is etched into your memory forever. I had so much planned for the coming months as I was coaching volleyball, working out, summer vacation, family picnics at the lake, and new project opportunities at work. On Saturday, February 27th in 2010, life as I knew it, would change forever.
I had just finished working out and was taking a shower to rinse off the hard-earned sweat. I had been feeling a little more fatigued than usual, but chalked it up to lack of exercise and a not-so-great meal plan. With a new found attitude (or better known as a diet) and making time to actually go to the gym rather than making a monthly donation, I thought the fatigue I was feeling would get better. But in that shower, everything changed.
I found something in my left breast that startled me. It felt like a hard, marble under my skin. What was it!?!?? Did I swallow something and now it resided there? At the time, I was on the hormone patch due to a hysterectomy procedure three years previously so maybe there was an abundance of hormones in this one area, like they were grouping together to riot against my body!! I just didn’t know, so like I did so many times, I brushed it off and went about my business the remainder of the day. But, this “thing” was there and no matter how hard I tried to forget it, it was like it had a voice and was saying “over here!” I kept checking throughout the day and finding new ways to justify its existence. I finally convinced myself that my body was changing and went to bed.
It was now Sunday morning and this “thing” was still there. I was not happy that this new tenant didn’t ask me first before moving in. I felt like I was making a mountain out of a mole hill and needed to know if I was losing my mind. It was time to call in the expert – my husband. I asked if he could provide a second opinion. As any loving husband would gladly do, he thought I was approaching him for other reasons and was all smiles at first. Then, the smiles faded to a confused look and then he told me what I didn’t want to hear – I needed to get this “thing” checked out. Definitely not what I wanted to hear, but I knew he was right and I would make a plan to call my gynecologist.
In short, I made an appointment with my gynecologist Tuesday, diagnostic mammogram Thursday, biopsy that same day and then diagnosed with Stage 2 triple positive hormone-based breast cancer at 11:15 am that Friday. Two weeks later, I started aggressive chemotherapy every two weeks for 16 weeks, surgery and then 36 radiation treatments. I was told after being diagnosed that my cancer was aggressive and that it only took 4-6 months to grow to 2.9 cm. I couldn’t believe that I almost brushed off getting looked at because I had other things I wanted to take care of first. If I had waited, I might not have had a choice and by getting checked out when I did, I gave myself a fighting chance.
“It is impossible to win the race unless you venture to run, impossible to win the victory unless you dare to battle.”
What I hope you take away from this is that if you notice something changing or that you don’t feel like yourself, make an appointment with your regular physician. I make it a point to see my regular doctor once a year for a check-up and we talk about any concerns that I have. I see the group of physicians that treated my cancer every 2-3 months and I ask them questions that I have. Your health is worth it and I firmly believe that it is better to ask questions so that we can become better educated on what is good/bad for us and how we can extend our health. The medical profession is there to help us reach our healthiest version of ourselves and all we need to do is make an appointment to see them.
Have you or anyone you know been recently diagnosed with breast cancer? Feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions. We can conquer anything when we band together 😉 Looking forward to hearing from the Every Woman Blog family!