I was 18 years old and found a lump in my neck, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. I had Cobalt Radiation to my Neck, Chest and Abdomen, 5 days a week for 25 weeks. Every year I would get a CT scan to make sure that I didn’t have any new signs of cancer. At the age of 23 I was Diagnosed again with Hodgkin’s Disease, however this time I was recovering from a severe Pilonidal Cyst, I was admitted to Sloan Kettering in NY, where they performed a rare procedure called Rotation Flap. I was in the process of moving to Arizona, and the Oncologist at Sloan referred me to an Oncologist in Phoenix.
Upon arriving to Arizona, I immediately applied for state insurance so I could start Chemotherapy. I was on Chemo for 6 months when they diagnosed me in remission. Everything was fine in February of 2007 at the age of 37, I went to my Primary Care Physician for my yearly Well Woman exam. He was examining my breasts and he found a lump. I knew immediately and my heart sunk. I was referred to a Breast Cancer Surgeon who performed a Lumpectomy and called me a few days later stating that I did in fact have Breast Cancer.
I was told that I didn’t need a Mastectomy and that I should be fine with just Radiation, I went to a Radiation Oncologist, where I was informed that I was not a candidate for Radiation since I had already had it 20 years prior and that I did need a Bi-Lateral Mastectomy. I was absolutely devastated. Within weeks I had the surgery, which I believe is the worst part of the entire process. I unfortunately got Necrosis and that delayed the start of Chemo, I had to go to the surgeon once a week for dressing changes and the dead skin to be cut away. Everyday I had to flush the wound and pack it with wet to dry gauze.
I started Chemo about 6 weeks after the Necrosis finally healed, I had 4 sessions across a 12 week time span. I again for the second time lost my hair, I was very weak from Chemo, I was suffering from anxiety attacks daily, sometimes a few a day. My attitude was horrible, I hate the way I looked and felt.
The time came to start reconstruction, I was so excited to finally move on and start getting my life back, I was forced to move in with my parents because I ran through all my savings. The same week I was diagnosed, I lost my job and went on state insurance again. My plastic surgeon was not approved with Ahcccs, and he fought long and hard with Ahcccs for them to approve him to treat me since he was my DR prior to me loosing my job and insurance. Ahcccs made me go to three different plastic surgeons who all didn’t want anything to do with me because I had Radiation therapy in 1989. In fact, one was so rude he told me that I will have to look like this for the rest of my life. I had a severe anxiety attack in his office and left bawling my eyes out. I cannot believe how incredibly rude this man was. I called the plastic surgeon what I was told and he reassured me that I would get this surgery and would get my reconstruction.
After about 6 months of fighting with Ahcccs, I was finally approved with Dr. John Rowley, the wonderful man who fought so hard for me. We immediately scheduled surgery for expanders! I again had a problem with the same breast that had the Necrosis, I got a staph infection and lost the expander, another devastating moment. A few months later I was healed enough to have the second expander put in. Of course another staph infection! I was admitted to the hospital and had the area flushed out and was on heavy duty antibiotics for 5 days and another surgery to flush the area. This time the expander was saved! After a few weeks I started getting the expanders filled and surgery was scheduled for the implants and reconstruction.
It is now about 2 and a half years later and I went back to school to become a Medical Assistant, I graduated with Honors and Perfect Attendance. Finally, I am starting to get my life back!
Thank you for taking the time to ready my story
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