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As saddened as I am when I hear of people being diagnosed with breast cancer, I am also encouraged by their stories of hope. So we continue on with just that, more stories of hope and inspiration from those who’ve battled and beaten the disease. Take a read of Amy’s story, and takes special heed to what she says will NOT happen if we don’t talk about it.
How did you first find out you had cancer?
Initially, I saw a teeny dimple on my left breast that concerned me and after a visit to my internist, she recommended I go for a mammogram. There were several tests taken that day (Friday, April 23, 2011), which revealed abnormal scans, and a lump that measured 2.3 centimeters.
How did you react when you heard the news?
I knew. I knew. I knew. And it was my internist who delivered the news. She took her time, so I knew something was wrong. My husband and I met her at her office and she shared the mammo/sono findings. I reacted with stunned silence but wanted to keep my composure. I didn’t want to reveal to anyone, any sense of weakness, so I let not one tear drop. Although inside I was wailing!
What course of treatment were you prescribed?
I opted for a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, which was a 13-hour, grueling surgery. After the reconstruction I started chemotherapy ACT (Adryamyacin) followed by Taxol (four rounds of each).
What most surprised you about your treatment?
I was surprised at how it wiped me away. What I mean is the treatment started with me saying, “yeah, I can do this.” To, “What in the world is this chemo doing to me?” Week after week, I physically changed. It was like a metamorphosis of sorts. I also never knew how it would catapult me into this cancer world. You’d have to experience the side effects to fully appreciate what the ‘cancer world’ is.
What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
Don’t panic! Don’t beat yourself up trying to figure out, “why me?” Don’t allow other people to fight your battle, since this is a battle you have to fight. Don’t look at this cancer as the end, but more as a beginning to a new part of your life. Don’t stop praying…ever. Don’t leave the ring until you win the fight! Even those we’ve lost to cancer and passed on have not lost the fight. They stand with us.
How long have you been cancer free?
I am currently in treatment but consider myself cancer free as of May 31, 2011, the date of my bilateral mastectomy.
What lessons did you learn from the experience?
I learned that support from family and friends are paramount to healing. I learned that not talking about it – cancer- doesn’t help anyone. I learned that resuming a normal lifestyle, as much as I could, was healthy.
If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
My message to all Good Enough Mothers is to continue to teach your kids how tough you are. By gracefully – yet aggressively – riding the tough waves of your life, will give them the skills needed to handle their future obstacles.
Amy was recently profiled on WCBS’ newscast. You can watch that story here.
Amy Bowllan began her career as a Television Investigative Producer and Reporter for WCBS-TV NY and KNXV in Phoenix, AZ. She also snagged two Emmy awards for Broadcast Journalism and several Associated Press awards. She now is the Coordinator of Media Resources & Research at The Hewitt School in NYC and is responsible for integrating technological resources into staff and students day to day programs; and writes for Bowllan’s Blog at School Library Journal. Contact her via Twitter @abowllan or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.