When my sister Erica announced that her second and final pathology report pushed her to Stage 3A breast cancer at the age of 37, my heart fell. We have had numerous occurrences of breast cancer in our family, so we have a better understanding of what’s to be expected than a person who has not experienced cancer at all. However, we were still shocked at the diagnosis. Erica walked into her mastectomy surgery with an original diagnosis of Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia (Stage 0.) By the time that pathology came back, she jumped right to Stage 2B. That was a surprise to all of us. We all expected a surprise, but nothing like a major (and final) jump to Stage 3A after determining she had a total of eight lymph nodes involved.
With the final diagnosis, a treatment plan was in place. Erica would be embarking on a chemotherapy regimen of four treatments over eight weeks. Then she would be taking another I.V. “Chemo Cocktail” every week for 12 weeks. For those counting, that’s a grand total of 16 chemotherapy treatments. If all went as planned, it would take her 20 weeks to complete her chemotherapy treatments alone. Anywhere between 30 and 40 radiation treatments (5 days per week) would immediately follow, giving her an added six to seven more weeks of treatments. All of this, of course, put her reconstruction efforts on hold. She was allowed to expand, but would not be allowed to receive her new implants until six months after her treatments were complete. That’s a long time between start and finish, all because the dreaded “C” word got in the way.
Cancer definitely is not a fun and exciting diagnosis. It’s not glamorous; not even with all the pink ribbons you can find to wear. You, as a cancer patient, go through a lot of turmoil, mentally and physically. I may have escaped the radiation and chemotherapy, but I have seen the effects it has taken on too many of the ones I love. My sister’s journey and story is not over. Just like mine, my grandmother’s, and my mom’s, the story never ends. As a family unit, we were all ready to fight right alongside each other. We became four strong survivors with this latest diagnosis. Who would have thought “Strength in Numbers” would involve our family history of cancer?
New posts every Monday and Wednesday.