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My name is Stacey. I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ in November 2008, at the age of 34. I am now 36 years old and doing better than ever!!! Cancer, you got nothing on me Baby!!!!
In November 2008, I had done a self breast exam in the shower and found a lump. After talking to my husband, we decided I needed to get into the doctor the next day to have it examined. My doctor was very concerned and sent me for my first mammogram and breast ultra sound later the same week. The breast clinic then scheduled me for biopsy the following week. It turned out that although I did have cancer in my milk ducts, the lump I’d found was not cancerous, but was the catalyst to finding the cancer and ultimately saving my life!
The weekend following the biopsy was the longest weekend I’d ever had. I didn’t receive my results until the following Tuesday. I’ve never been so scared in all my life. On the way to the doctor that Tuesday afternoon, I told my husband that if I got the results that I did in fact have cancer, I needed him to take me to my mother’s house afterward so I could tell her. I knew this was not news that I could share over the phone. I also knew it would be a tough subject to discuss as so many forms of cancer have ravaged our family.
My doctor had set up the appointment with the surgeon for two days later. The surgeon explained that, per the biopsy results, the cancer ran through the milk ducts from one side of my breast all the way across and that a mastectomy of the right breast was the best option. He also explained that when medically necessary to remove one breast, the insurance would pay to have the other removed as well, if we chose that path. I would have a few days to think about my options before meeting with him again to schedule a surgery date.
Now, please understand that all I’d done for the past week or so was cry my eyes out. So while sitting in the surgeons office, the doctor had given my husband and I a moment to soak all of the information in. My sweet husband, in a attempt to at least make me smile reminded me that when we were dating, I’d always said that I wanted a boob job when we got rich…now the insurance would cover that cost. Little did I know, this was to be the first of many silver linings we’d need to find during this long journey, in order to keep our sanity.
My husband also suggested that over the next few days, until we met with the surgeon again, I should talk to my girlfriends who knew someone, or who had themselves, been through breast cancer to decide if I should just have the right breast removed or have both removed. He knew in his heart what his decision would be, but he also knew that this was the most major decision I’d ever made and that I would have to live with this for the rest of my life. After talking to and meeting many survivors, who had had lumpectomy or only one breast removed and had recurrences later in the other breast, I decided to have both breasts removed and not have any breeding ground left for more cancer to grow. Surgery was then scheduled for November 26, 2008, the day before Thanksgiving.
Now, many people thought this was a horrible day to have surgery and that it would interfere with the upcoming holiday. I, however, did not look at it that way at all. I knew the best Thanksgiving I could have, was to wake up to have the doctor tell me they were able to remove all the cancer from my body. Thanksgiving would then, and forever, hold and extra special meaning in my heart.
Recovery after surgery was especially difficult as I had never experienced such pain before in my life. It took a village of friends and family and my Prince to walk me through the days that were to come. I’m so grateful for all the support and love I received as my body healed.
January 2009 brought chemotherapy. When ready for my hair to fall out, my husband cousins and I had a head shaving party where I ended up with a Pink Mohawk for the day, then ultimately bald. That was my way of saying – “Screw Cancer, I’ll beat you yet”. It’s the one thing I had control of while my body was fighting the disease.
From June 2009 to December 2009, I underwent reconstruction. Expanders, fills, silicone gel implants, then nipples and tattooing. The final outcome is new upgraded me!!!
Today I’m extremely active in the Susan G Komen Phoenix Affiliate and volunteer as a Community Outreach Ambassador. I’m passionate about sharing the message of early detection. I feel I reach one person who acts, than my efforts and my journey through cancer were worth it and not in vain!!!