Survivor Stories 2015:
1. How did you first find out you had cancer?
In September of 2011, during a routine self-examination I found a lump in my right breast. I immediately made an appointment to see my physician. Immediately afterwards I was scheduled for a breast ultrasound, mammogram, and subsequent needle-core biopsy. On October 20, 2011, I met with my physician to discuss the result of all of these tests. “You have breast cancer,” was the last thing I expected to hear that morning.
2. How did you react when you heard the news?
When I heard the news, I believe I was in too much of a state of shock to have a physical reaction. Internally, all my mental gears were grinding and moving, I was springing into action mentally. In my mind, I begin to formulate all types of plans before I even knew which treatment options would be available for my specific diagnosis.
3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?
I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Ductal Carcinoma in situ on the right side. Although, my surgical oncologist informed me that a lumpectomy and radiation would be able to treat my diagnosis. I elected to have a bilateral mastectomy with a Tram flap reconstruction surgery. The surgeon also removed 18 lymph nodes, which were all clear. This surgery was 16 long and torturous hours for my family and friends. After recovery on January 9, 2012 I began prescribed chemotherapy, 8 biweekly rounds (4 rounds of Adriamycin and Cytoxan and 4 rounds of Taxol.) During the 4 biweekly rounds of Taxol, it was accompanied by 4 Neulasta injections.
4. What most surprised you about your treatment?
Experiencing the side effects was the most surprising thing I experienced throughout treatment. Although, my healthcare workers, website, and pamphlets made me aware of the side effects, it was a different experience watching my body change. Another surprise was my strength through it all, I was determined not to mentally nor spiritually succumb to this disease despite the changes my eyes witnessed I had to have faith that I would beat this demon.
5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
I would tell them to maintain a positive spiritual connection. Don’t waste energy on negative people and situations, instead focus on family, friends, and fighting to win this race.
6. How long have you been cancer free?
I have been cancer free since my surgery November 30, 2011.
7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?
I learned that you never know how strong you are until you have no other choice.
8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there what—would it be?
Take care of your body to do all that you can to prolong your life. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in caring for everyone else we often overlook our own needs.
Latoya Cauley is a 38-year-old Chicago Native, she is active in her local ministry, also a federal employee, tax professional, student, mother, grandmother, and Breast Cancer Survivor.