Barbara's Reflections My Journey Living With Breast Cancer

August 3, 2011
Barbara A. Karczeski, MS, CGC

This month is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and so I feel it's an appropriate time to Reflect on my last eighteen months going down that road. I will try not to make this a sad trip but instead a hopeful one for all of us either with the disease or with loved one's going through this journey.

Hi friends,

This month is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and so I feel it's an appropriate time to Reflect on my last eighteen months going down that road. I will try not to make this a sad trip but instead a hopeful one for all of us either with the disease or with loved one's going through this journey.

I first found "My Lump" last April and even though I am a retired nurse and the mother-in-law to a breast cancer surgeon I did what just about everyone does and that is; I Freaked Out! Didn't Tell Anyone; It can't be true, it will go away... So I was silent for a bit; but deep inside of me I Knew...

My husband had just died suddenly in December and I guess I had several thoughts going through my mind at the same time. First I didn't care; I just didn't care about anything... Then I remember thinking this Couldn't be true; no one has this much happen to them all at once... Well, that thought went away pretty quick when reality set in and I had run out of excuses.

I was visiting my dear sister, "Our Roberta", in Austin and I asked her to feel it and tell me what she thought. Well she "thought " plenty and got the ball rolling and got me to Dallas and my son-in-law's. We were both terrified of what we would find when the testing was done. Our fears were true; it was cancer.

The next few days went by so fast I can't believe so much could be accomplished in such a short period of time. I had a mammogram, sonograms, core biopsies of both breasts and then the diagnosis. Yes Barbara, it is cancer.

God, how those words beat in my brain. I went through the "why me?" bit and the "where's Bob now that I need him?" bit and the "how do I tell my family?" bit; but the bottom line was this was my fight and I had to fight it...

Thanks to modern medical science there are excellent care options for women with breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy and node removal. I did not have cancer in my lymph nodes so at least that added fear was removed. I had a few things in my pathology report that I would rather had not been there like; aggressive, fast growing, estrogen negative which means no Tamoxafin, and a DNA report that says it's not quite what they would like to find. But all in all it certainly could have been worse.

The surgery went very well and I was up and at it in no time. I visited an old family friend who was my first husband's oncologist and was now to become mine. We discussed treatment options and between all three of us, surgeon, oncologist and Me we decided on a treatment plan that would be best for Me. I was to have three rounds of Chemo followed by radiation (33 treatments) and then three more rounds of Chemo. This kept me "busy" until the first of November and I do mean busy!

It was Never fun and it was sometimes very frightening and I did feel very alone and sad a lot of the time; but I did survive it and I am here now. I did lose most of my hair the first couple of weeks into chemo, but I did not loose any the second time around and in fact it grew back during that time better then ever! I have had no re-occurrence thank God, and I keep my appointments with my surgeon and oncologist every three months, Faithfully...

Why do I think I got Breast Cancer? Remember these are My opinions and mine only but I for one do believe "Stress"; big time stress was a great factor in my breast cancer. It makes our immune system go out of whack and mine sure did. I believe factors beyond my control got the better of me and I was Not in fighting shape and so the little devils took over in my body.

What have I learned from having had Breast Cancer? Plenty! First I have learned what a great gift my sister is. She stood by me throughout all of this and supported me and showed constant love during my journey. I have come of late to find great personal beliefs that I thought I had forgotten. I have gone back to a New Church where I am content and comfortable and where I find peace. I have learned the art of patience and it works for me. I have found a way to "Not Sweat The Little Things"; as I now know what a Big Problem really is... I have learned to Pass on the small, petty things in life and let them go... I have learned who loves me and most of all, I Have Learned To Love Myself.

I am very busy with OBGYN.net and taking a couple of courses at a local University at night and go on vacations and have a ball and I have learned to "Really", Stop And Smell The Roses... Remember folks , "Life is a journey Not a destination", and this is just a part of my journey...

Get your Mammogram this month and take care of your health. There is life after Breast Cancer but I for one could have Passed On It.

Barbara