Survivor Stories 2014:
1. How did you first find out you had cancer?
It was November 2011 when I felt a lump in my right breast. I put off going to the doctor because I didn’t want to get stuck with needles or endure the process of another biopsy as I had just went thru this process earlier that year because of lumps in my left breast, which wasn’t cancer after the test were administered may I add. Me thinking it was the same and that it was something that could wait. I waited and didn’t schedule an appointment until February 2012. So I endured the process and on February 20, 2012, 3 days after celebrating our twin daughters 8th birthday doctor called while I was at work and told me I had cancer.
2. How did you react when you heard the news?
I was in shock, my life flashed before my eyes. Cancer never crossed my mind during the biopsy screening because it doesn’t run in my family. I just thought it was a cyst or breast tissue as previous test showed in my left breast.I asked my Dr. several times if he was sure he was reading the results correctly.
3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?
I endured 6 months of chemo. Did 8 weeks of radiation – (5days a week). I had the bilateral mastectomy with the Diep Breast Reconstruction and Nipple reconstruction with Areola tattooing.
I had the best medical team: Anneliese Gonzales –oncologist, Dr. Emily Robinson-general surgeon, Dr. Angel Blanco-Radiation and Dr. Sean Boutros-Plastic and reconstructive surgeon. I had my mastectomy at Memorial Hermann hospital and other surgeries at Westside Surgical Hospital.
4. What most surprised you about your treatment? The entire experience I would say.
Losing my hair was one thing; I knew my hair would grow back. But looking my original God given breast was a little hard and still hard at times a year later. As grateful as I am for my life, you feel a little different as a women. But overall the Chemo was the worst part of the entire treatment/journey. I was sick throughout the entire 6 months of treatment.
5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
I would advise him/her to stay connected with our creator. I would let them know that they are not alone to make sure they have the right support system, people who will show interest and real concern and who will uplift them during their journey. It’s important to socialize with people who are going through the same thing; they will understand your emotional roller coaster it’s some what a relief if you will being able to express what you are going through to someone who’s going through and or who have gone through it. I felt at times when I stated I felt like this or that, that my loved ones didn’t/couldn’t exactly understand. It was therapeutic in a way to relate to someone who knew or knows what you are going through or how you are feeling.
6. How long have you been cancer free?
I’ve been in remission for 2 years now.
7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?
Life is truly a gift to make EVERY moment count. At that time in my life everything that I thought was big became small, it didn’t matter. I just wanted to live.
8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
Hmm! Being a women period is good enough! Although we endure so much, fighting for equality in this world to being the back bone in some cases in our home and or our communities. We were uniquely designed. The unconditional love we give, and as a mother it’s rewarding to have a purpose other than yourself. I’m honored to be a mother and more importantly a mother who is a breast cancer survivor, just makes me surviving all the more special.
Rhonda Coleman is a woman of faith, wife, mother of 3, sister, daughter, friend, Breast Cancer Survivor.