How did you first find out you had cancer?
I found a lump while doing my breast self exam. I was training for a triathlon and thought that maybe I had injured myself, so I gave it a few weeks to go away. At the end of the third week, the lump protruded through the skin. I quickly called my doctor and had a mammogram and ultrasound, as well as biopsies. Though I had to wait for the biopsy results, I knew I had breast cancer when the doctor was explaining my mammogram to me. I had several lumps in my breast and a mass under my arm.
How did you react when you heard the news?
I knew from my mammogram that I had it, so when my doctor called me in the evening of April 15, 2010 to confirm it, I wasn’t surprised. I told my husband then I waited until he fell asleep and I crept into each of my daughters’ rooms and prayed over them. Then I went into our study and I simply sat in the darkness and talked to God. I didn’t ask him, “Why me?” Well why not me? I simply asked him to show me my purpose. I knew there had to be a reason. I was young, physically fit, I had no family history so I knew that there was a reason as to why I had it.
What course of treatment were you prescribed?
I had chemotherapy, a mastectomy, radiation, and targeted cancer therapy (Herceptin). My last treatment was on July 12, 2011. I also had a prophylatic mastectomy on my other breast.
What most surprised you about your treatment?
The nickname for the chemo Adriamycin was called “the red devil.” I refused to call it that and changed it to “the blood of Christ.” I certainly would rather have the blood of Christ injected into my veins to kill my cancer instead of the red devil.
What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
The week when you know that you have cancer but are waiting for the biopsy results (the week of the unknown), will be the hardest week that you will go through. It’s still hard going through treatment, but at least you now know what to expect. Nothing can prepare you for the week of the unknown. You fear for yourself, you fear for your family, your life, all you have to get you through that week is prayer.
How long have you been cancer free?
One year this past July.
What lessons did you learn from the experience?
Just how many people cared about me and my family. I was also surprised by how close I became with many of the patients I had treatment with. We were like a family; we shared our fears and our struggles with each other as well as the triumphs of our last treatments.
If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
As hard as cancer was, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. It made me slow down to really enjoy what really matters in life, which is my family.
Traci Runge lives in Carmel, Indiana, and is the mother of three beautiful daughters. Traci is a breast cancer survivor as well as the inspiration behind the Indy Super Cure, due to her being the first woman in the world to have donated healthy breast tissue (2007) and then cancerous breast tissue (2010). In addition, Traci was one of the 46 faces of the Indianapolis Super Bowl 46. She is currently undergoing breast reconstruction procedures and has become passionate about adult stem cell therapy and how it has played a vital role in the reconstruction process and concurrent healing of her tissue. In addition to attending her daughters’ various activities, Traci enjoys working out, reading, and spending time with family.
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