While I realize the terrible disaster in Japan is on everyone's mind, I recently suffered a personal disaster...and survived.
Perhaps you noticed my absence from social networking the past year or so. I took a year off writing (and everything else in my life) when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Yep, the big C. I never thought it would happen to me. It's one of those truly sad things that happens to other women. If you're among the seven out of eight women who haven't been stricken by breast cancer, please don't be complacent. The first thing I had to face is the reality that breast cancer can happen to ME.
I have annual mammograms, and last January I got a good report. Nothing suspicious showed up in the digital X-rays. Still, I continued to do monthly BSEs as my seventh grade health teacher told me, and in March found a suspicious lump. By April, when my surgeon removed it, it was already 2 cm and stage 1-C breast cancer. Further pathology found my lump to be fast growing and aggressive, and something called HER2 positive.
Although breast cancer kills many women, the survival rate is much higher than in the past. The numbers encouraged me (90-93%). In short, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and prepared to fight. Taking it one day at a time, I had six treatments of two different kinds of chemotherapy drugs, a year's worth of Herceptin injections (sort of an anti-hormone), and thirty-five radiation treatments. I lost my hair and my energy but never my sense of humor.
Thanks to a wonderful team of doctors, a caring family, and the prayers and support of thousands of friends (some I've never met except online), I have recovered. My hair and my energy have returned, I'm writing again, and I have a new book out. I've made it my mission to warn women about the importance of early detection. Get those mammograms. Check your body each month. See a doctor immediately if anything seems amiss.
This week I had my annual mammogram. No sign of any cancer! And that, my friends, makes me a SURVIVOR. Hallelujah!