How did you first find out you had cancer?
I noticed a spot of blood in my bra and went to my regular doctor. She sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound, assuring me that everything was probably fine, but of course it wasn’t. When pressed following the biopsy procedure, my doctor said “We don’t see symptoms like this in someone who doesn’t have cancer.”
How did you react when you heard the news?
The news dawned on me over a period of days. I felt every conceivable emotion during that time, from fear to denial to an incredible sadness. When I got the official word, I called my mom and my sister and tried to hold it together for them as I delivered the news. I had a 2 1/2 year old son at the time and I couldn’t look at him without bursting into tears. For several days I was quite sure I was going to die. It was a very difficult time.
What course of treatment were you prescribed?
I had neo-adjuvant chemotherapy (Taxotere, Carboplatin and Herceptin), plus I had 10 other prescriptions for side effects. After chemo, I had a mastectomy. My oncologist wanted me to pursue radiation, but I declined.
What most surprised you about your treatment?
Everything and nothing. It was all new, so every day was an adventure, but after a while, nothing phases you. You’re still you, just with more doctor’s appointments.
What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
Try to be patient. It takes time for your doctors to do all the tests they need to do to give you a good plan of action. Getting the diagnosis is just the beginning. Also, it’s your cancer, so don’t let anyone tell you how you should cope. Feel like crying? Doing kung fu? Getting a really great haircut right before your hair falls out? Go for it. Do what feels right for you. It does help to talk to someone who’s been there. Even years later, you are dealing with things that only another survivor can understand.
How long have you been cancer free?
2 1/2 years.
What lessons did you learn from the experience?
I learned how much I am loved and how powerful social media can be as a support system. I learned NEVER to read medical forums. I learned I look pretty hot without hair, and that standing out is more fun than blending in.
If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
Cancer doesn’t discriminate, and neither should we. Please do your part to ensure that all women – young and old, rich and poor – have access to life saving diagnostics and treatment.
Ann Bevans is a writer, graphic designer and web developer. As principal of Ann Bevans Collective, she helps clients’ articulate messages that matter and create print and online marketing programs that communicate those messages with impact. Ann asks tough questions and doesn’t accept flimsy answers. She makes music and write fiction. She does all her own stunts. Connect with Ann on her website, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
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