When I was about eight or nine my Grammie was diagnosed with breast cancer. While she was being treated my Gramps came home with a medical grade fake breast that had different types of lumps in it. He was a chief x-ray tech so we got crash courses on medical issues throughout our lives, anywho he told my brothers and I how to check breasts and what to look for. We all kind of went yeah whatever but still listened to his lesson and paid attention.
Grammie made it and is still around today and we all went on our ways. But I always remembered that lesson and would check myself every so often and not just rely just on my doctors.
Well I found a lump in my breast doing a self check. It was the beginning of June and I felt a very large lump. I knew right away it was cancer, just a gut feeling. But my husband was like well maybe it is a cyst so lets just not freak out to much. There was no pain with the lump or any other warning symptom that I had. It sort of just appeared out of no where since my last exam the year before. I had to wait until the end of June to see the doctor (ahh insurance). So once I saw my family practitioner she sent me to get a biopsy. In about a week I was sent to the women’s health clinic at Bronson and had a biopsy.
A few days later I was called with my results and was told I had triple negative metastatic cancer of the breast.
Not sure what else was said by the results doctor but I remember, because it pissed me off, the nurse liaison wishing me a happy birthday and hanging up. For real not the best thing to say to anyone after getting news like that. Needless to say my 35th birthday is not one I will ever remember with fondness: maybe the year that will never be named.
Anywho when I met with the surgeon who would be doing my surgery, she suggested doing chemo before surgery since the lump was 4.5 cm and very close to my nipple; to see if the chemo could shrink the lump and breast tissue could be saved. So off to the oncologist to start treatment and talk about other treatments. She said since it was triple negative I would not be able to do any hormone therapy and would need to do chemo, then surgery and if I kept my breast I would need radiation after surgery. The chemo would first be a double dose of two chemo drugs (Adriamycin and Cyclophosphamide) for four weeks and then Taxol for 12 weeks.
The first round of chemo started at the end of July, after I had a run of CT scans and a MRI to make sure I did not have any other cancer spots. Knock on wood I had no other spots just the one in my left breast. So that was super happy news and a huge relief. I was also told that it would be a good idea to get a genetic test to see if I carried any of the cancer genes, did that and have none woohoo! I was offered the use of a cold cap to see if it could save my hair. I mainly wanted to save my hair for my little ones whose only experience with cancer was their Gump dying less then a year ago from it. The cold cap was not something I ever want to do again. I tried it twice but my hair just kept falling out and boy does that hurt. I did not know how much it would hurt but damn it was bad. Plus it was even worse because I was freezing my brain for nothing really. The two times I wore the cap I had frost on my hair, it was so not worth it.
During my treatment we went to Wyoming to visit my husbands family and to see the total eclipse, which was an amazing experience and was unforgettable. While out in Wyoming I just had enough of my hair falling out and the constant headache that it was causing. I asked my husband to shave my head I was just done with it all. He was very concerned about it but agreed to do it.
So the last of my hair was shaved off and I sent it off into the wind. A freeing experience.
My Crown Experience
Now my head was clean and I looked rather good (if I do say so myself), but I felt the need to do something with my head. I always loved henna, the smell of it, the way it relaxes me, the lovely detail work; I even had it for my wedding. Oh yeah sidetracked. Anyway I thought it would be calming to get henna done on my head, cause why not? I started to look for a henna artist who could do what I wanted and had no luck. Until I stumbled upon Amanda’s website. I thought her artwork is just lovely and I bet she could do it. I had no clue about the Crowns of Courage but once Amanda mentioned it to me I looked into it and was just blown a way by all of the ladies that had done it before and all of their stories. I then just knew that Amanda and her Crowns of Courage was just what I was looking for and it felt right.
When Amanda and Steven made my crown it was just the best experience, the images they used meant a lot to me and really lifted my spirits. The blessing that Amanda gave to me after finishing my crown was very touching and just made me feel even better. Its hard to put into words really but it was a great experience and I am so glad I got to be a part of it.
Since my crown I have finished the chemo treatment, my surgery went well even though I had to have another one and now I am in radiation treatment. I am not sure what the next steps will be after my treatment ends but I know I will be stronger because of it.
In addition; I have finished radtiaon and I was finally told what stage I was in; the survivorship counselor was amazed no one had told me. My official diagnosis: Triple Negative Invasive Ductal Carcinoma of the left breast, Stage 1A T2 N0 M0. In nonmedial English that last part is that it was not found in the lymph nodes and it had not spread outside of the area it was first located in. So that is my story in a very small and jumbled nut shell.
Read More Crowns of Courage Experiences
Nine year old Mailynn was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. What started as a perceived ear infection, turned into a life changing circumstance. Eventually, Mailynn had to undergo chemotherapy and face the inevitability of losing her hair.
Lee Ann Proia
This journey has changed me. It has reminded me of what is really important. It has reminded me to trust in the Lord. It has made me simplify my life and slow down and enjoy every moment. It has made me see how many people love me. It has made me bolder, stronger, tougher.
October 21st of every year will never be the same for as long as I live. It is the day I began my battle with cancer, and it is a day I will never forget.