Rays of Resilience

She Survived Life-Threatening Illnesses And Two Heart Attacks. Now She Has Breast Cancer.

Rays of Resilience: 31 Stories in 31 Days. So many people around the world have been affected by breast cancer, yet no two breast cancer journeys are the same. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re celebrating a new survivor every day. Their resilience is an inspiration to us all.

My name is Geraldine.

I am 52 years old, have 7 children, 11 grandchildren, and a wonderful husband. And I have breast cancer.

I have had several health issues throughout my life. I had two heart attacks; the first one happened when I was 40 years old, and the second at age 48. I almost lost my life in April of 2018 and was hospitalized for five days with sepsis. I’ve had other life threatening issues and other health issues, and now I have breast cancer.

Two of the hardest things to deal with are the not knowing, and having to tell your children and your family you have breast cancer.

I was diagnosed on July 3, 2018, with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) on my right breast. Things starting moving really fast after my biopsy — so fast my head was spinning.

I had my first surgery on July 20, 2018, the day before my birthday. It was a lumpectomy and they also removed healthy tissue. Everyone was there for this surgery, we filled the waiting room. Boy, the surgery was really hard on my body, being that I am a larger woman and also a big-breasted woman. It was great having everyone around the next day for my birthday, but it was still hard to process. I felt broken, damaged, and there were so many thoughts going through my head: Will I get through this? Will my husband still love me? What will happen to me? It was so overwhelming.

I waited the whole week for the doctors to get back to me with my results. By the way, my whole team of doctors are great and my breast cancer coach Maureen is amazing. Throughout the week I didn’t hear anything and was getting worried, but I was also thinking, “No news is good news.”

The following Tuesday I received the call; they found more cancer this time, and it was invasive ductal carcinoma. I would need more surgery. My hormone receptors were estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative, and HER2 positive. I felt another big blow, like my life and health were really falling apart.

They scheduled my next surgery for August 10, 2018.

While I waited for that surgery, I fought a little depression. I felt alone, and, yes, I had my family’s love and support, but they didn’t understand what I was going through or how I felt inside. During the day I was home by myself and all I would do is cry and think, “Why did this happen to me?” I don’t have breast cancer in my family but it happened to me.

They funny thing is, the people who said they were my close friends seemed to stop talking to me like I was seriously contagious. But my two wonderful daughters, Alicia and Christina, would come and make sure I was ok while dad was at work. They would come on their lunch breaks, days off, or just take the day off to be with me and spend the day with me. My other daughter Leticia, who lives in Oregon, would text or message me all day to make sure I was ok, and my boys — Martin, Vincent, David and Marc — would call, or text and check on me to make sure Mommy was ok. My wonderful husband would call me every hour or text me while working his new job to make sure I was ok and getting through the day. He really takes good care of me.

It was great — but I still felt so alone and empty.

Well, Surgery #2 Day came, and they performed a sentinel lymph node biopsy and also removed more breast tissue. They reopened the same area as the first surgery. This was a longer surgery and I seemed to have a more painful recovery. My right arm is still giving me problems and I have some damaged ribs… ugh.

Once again, I waited for the doctors to call me back. This time it was better news; they removed all the breast cancer (yay!) and I managed to get out of chemo (thank goodness).

I will have radiation five days a week for six weeks. I have started the radiation, and just finished week #2. I know I can make it through this journey now, but radiation seems challenging at times. The fatigue, the tenderness and redness of my right breast, the itching, and getting on and off the table are all very real, but everyone at the cancer facility is wonderful, which make it so much easier. It all just seemed like a very long journey in such a short time. I am hoping and praying this radiation kills all the other little tiny cancer cells that think they can grow, and that I will be CANCER FREE!

This has been another rough chapter in my life, and I am getting through it so far. My kids call me “Wonder Woman” and “Princess Warrior” because I have been through so much these last couple of years.

I encourage each and every woman to get their mammogram every year. I hadn’t had mine since 2010 and I thank god that my doctor kept on me to get mine done and that my cancer was detected early.

That is my story for now and I really want to thank my wonderful husband and my beautiful daughters for taking me and being with me at each and every appointment, and others who have taken me to my appointments; my boys for standing by my side; my daughter, sons-in-law, my mommy, and my auntie for driving 1 1/2 hours to take me to treatments and spending time with me; and my wonderful sister Laurie for calling me and sending me health care packages. Without my family and few friends, I don’t think I could have made it through this journey.

Thank you to The Breast Cancer Site for letting me share my story with you.

To all my Pink Sisters: STAY STRONG, WE ARE IN THIS FIGHT TOGETHER! My thoughts and prayers are with each and every one of you.

Every purchase at the Breast Cancer Site helps fund mammograms for women in need. Shop our Pink Ribbon collection!

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