Anyone who writes for us or participates in our Facebook page knows Abby. The sweet and wonderful person doing a crap-ton of work behind the scenes to make Lose the Cape continue to function each day! Abby is a cancer survivor, and I’ve asked her to share a bit about her story with us on National Cancer Survivor’s Day.
I am honored to be a part of celebrating National Cancer Survivor’s Day. Having the diagnosis of cancer was something that was not on my life’s bucket list, but now being a survivor of Cancer is a part of that.
Last year in August I was diagnosed with Melanoma Skin Cancer. My family doctor mentioned a spot on the right side of my neck just below my jaw line, in a routine exam she asked if the spot had ever changed and on the spur of the moment I said “No.”
But later I got thinking about it and remembered mentioning it to my husband a couple years before and saying that it seemed like it was bigger and darker than I remembered it being before. I kept meaning to speak with my doctor each time and always forgot. Well, when I returned to her office a few months later, I mentioned that and she said “Oh! Let’s get it taken off and biopsy it.” So I agreed that whatever she thought was the best thing to do was what I would do. That’s the beauty of being able to fully trust your family doctor and she is awesome.
So she got me set up to have a biopsy done right there in the office. I went and had it removed and anxiously awaited the results. I really figured that it was just a mole and everything would be fine. I returned to the office to have stitches out and get the results and after having the stitches removed the doctor asked if I had come with anyone, I said no I was alone.
She went on to say that it was an aggressive form of skin cancer called melanoma and it was a Clark’s Level 4. I was scared to death, and instantly my eyes filled with tears.
I was 30 how could this be happening to me. I had been blessed with twin girls just 1 1/2 years before and thought, now I’m not even going to be able to finish raising them.I was 30 how could this be happening to me. #cancer #survivor Click To Tweet
I went to my car and broke down crying. My husband was in class at the time and couldn’t be reached since we didn’t have cell phones and I knew when I got home I had to take care of my little ones who I had left with my sister-in-law.
Our Pastor’s Mother happened to be at the same doctor’s office that morning and saw me come out and came over and pulled up next to my car and asked how it went. Tearily, I replied that I had cancer. Just 2 short years before they had lost their daughter to breast cancer and so I was scared to tell them and how it was going to affect all of those around us. She sat and talked with me for a few minutes and then left.
I got home and tried to hold things together although I ended up in tears (still bringing tears to my eyes thinking about it now). When my husband walked in, his first words were “well, what did they say?” and when I replied quietly that I had cancer everything went silent.
As the day wore on others gathered in our home including our Pastor who spent every night that week with us. He understood some of the agony and fear we were going through, having been through it with his wife 2 times. At the end of the week after having tried to be strong for everyone, I broke down and sobbed and just said I was so scared.
Just a few weeks later we went to see the oncologist at The James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. They examined me and got me scheduled for surgery to remove the rest of the spot and my sentinel lymph nodes which are the ones that spot drained to and would be the first to tell how far my cancer had progressed.
In September I went in for surgery, the doctor removed the spot and 3 of my lymph nodes and put me back together. Then came more of the waiting game, waiting for the results of the lymph node biopsy.
We returned to the oncologist about 14 days later to have my post op visit and get the results. They could hardly wait to share with me the good news that everything had come back negative!! I literally felt like jumping up and down.
Since then I’ve had 1 other spot removed that ended up not being cancer, but had atypical cells which could become cancer if left alone considering my history. I have regular exams every 3 months seeing the oncologist and then dermatologist. I am thankful that I have been cancer free since September of last year and have been able to celebrate my girls’ second birthday and my 31st birthday.
Cancer is scary, but I’m so thankful for the support that I’ve had through the whole ordeal and still get whenever I mention heading to another exam.#Cancer is scary, but I'm so thankful for the support that I've had. #nationalcancersurvivorsday Click To Tweet
So, as we celebrate National Cancer Survivor’s Day on June 5th this year, I for one truly have a reason to celebrate and I’m so happy for all the other amazing people such as Heather who also have a reason to celebrate. Yes, we still have fearful days. Yes, we have scars. Yes, we still dread the word cancer, but we are survivors and we are grateful for every day we’ve been given.
National Cancer Survivor’s Day was brought to my attention by Heather Von St. James who is a cancer survivor herself. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer shortly after her daughter was born but has been cancer free for 10 years! She is helping to spread awareness for NCSD to also shed light on mesothelioma because it is such a rare form of cancer that affects so many lives but is completely preventable. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos which makes it that much harder to hear that asbestos still exists buildings all over the US and Canada. There are three types of mesothelioma: pleural (the most common), peritoneal, and pericardial.
Heather strives to raise awareness for mesothelioma so that anyone facing a diagnosis will be able to find the right resources to help them navigate their way to a healthy life once again!
Who are you celebrating today?