Leslie won the LympheDIVAs giveaway sleeve. Here, she shows off her new fashion (and function) statement and shares her breast cancer story.
I have been so fortunate and blessed in my cancer journey. My doctor received the “normal findings” of my annual mammogram, which was done in mid-May, with the notation that my tissue was dense. He called and said he would like for me to have an ultrasound done as an additional precaution. Early in June, I had the ultrasound and a small spot (4mm) showed up in my left breast. The radiologist recommended that although it was probably just a cyst, I should go ahead and have a core biopsy. This was done a week later, and 10 days postbiopsy, my doctor called to sadly inform me that I had stage 1 cancer. I was catching a plane to celebrate my father-in-law’s 95th birthday within a couple of hours after that call, so my husband and I decided that we would keep the news to ourselves for the long weekend while my doctor set up an appointment with one of our local surgeons for the following week. I must admit that I have felt from the beginning a sense of peace about this whole experience. I have never doubted that my Lord has been with me at all times, and I rest in His saving grace.
When I returned from our trip, I met with the local surgeon and told him that because my mom was a survivor of cancer in both breasts, I wanted to go ahead and have a double mastectomy. He agreed and was to process the schedule with the reconstruction plastic surgeon. In the meantime, I made an appointment for a second consultation with MD Anderson in Orlando. I met with both the oncologist and then the surgeon, and both physicians felt that I was being extremely aggressive in my decision for a double mastectomy based on the results of the biopsy and felt a lumpectomy was the appropriate course of treatment with radiation. But they would do whatever I decided. After researching the statistics and talking to my family, I decided to go with the breast conservation and had a lumpectomy done on August 2. Ironically, the lab reports that came back from that surgery, which included the sentinel lymph node, indicated that ALL the cancer had been removed by the initial core biopsy done in June, and there was no finding of any cancer in the site or at the lymph node!
I am now undergoing 16 days of radiation and will meet again with the oncologist to discuss hormone therapy. Through all of this, I have had minimal pain or discomfort and the only inconvenience is driving 50 miles to and from Orlando for my doctor visits and radiation treatments—no complaints on my end! So many wonderful people have been such a support to me—what a blessing. I have met numerous courageous women dealing with their cancer, been encouraged by an unbelievable number of breast cancer survivors, and have become an advocate for educating and encouraging women in my daily walk to be sure to get their annual mammograms, and if the findings are dense tissue, to seek additional screening such as the ultrasound. Had I waited another year for my next mammogram, who knows how large the tumor would have grown or how far it could have spread. Thanks to my doctor’s foresight, my cancer was caught so early that my prognosis is excellent.
During this journey, I had the pleasure of getting together with one of our business clients. My husband had told her what was going on and she told us all about her cousin Jacki Donaldson and her exceptional cancer journey. As it turned out, I was given a LympheDIVAs sleeve that my friend had won in a contest. When my girlfriend (who is an OT and is trained in lymphedema therapy) was measuring me for the LympheDivas sleeve, I showed her the design I had picked out. She wondered why I was going with the lacy look that will stand out instead of a neutral skin tone color. I told her I want people to notice and hopefully ask about it so I can promote LympheDIVAs and give the elevator version of my experience and how important it is for women to be informed and know about dense breast tissue.
Thank you for detailing your story, Leslie; I hope you get to tell it over and over again because it will make a difference.