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My anniversary, my story

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I find myself more reflective today than celebratory. But here is My story.

I was 37 years old with a beautiful 7 year old blond hair boy. I had given up trying to conceive for a second time, and that was painful. Then, in May of 1993 I was told I had breast cancer, and I literally had an out of body experience. How I drove home that day was beyond me. those of you from Phila know I was at 18th and Lombard, and had to drive back to Jersey. Driving north on 95, saying

I have cancer, I'm going to die. My son will grow up motherless. I went into a depression that no one recognized and stayed there for a good 6 months. That cancer was stage 1, tumor less than 1 cm, lumpectomy and radiation. My husband and I went to counseling afterwards, trying to learn to live after the cancer.

Fast forward 4 ½ years. 41 years old. We move to a lovely home in the trees, big backyard facing woods. Got a dog, more cats. Son due to start middle school. Found another lump in the same breast. Not worried, but know it has to be looked at. I had seen the surgeon in July with my mammograms. All was well. Was back in her office in late August. We were both surprised, but I wasn't worried, cause I had a 94% cure rate the first time. Who gets cancer twice in the same breast anyway?

Answer: ME! Mastectomy scheduled, appointment with plastic surgeon for reconstruction. Me a brave little soldier. Wasn't going the depression route again. Very verbal with plans and treatment. However, very reluctant to discuss feelings. Returned to the classroom,I will not let this cancer stop me.

Well, it did. 2 days after my second treatment, I end up in the hospital with undiagnosed rectal bleeding. My hemoglobin was in the 7s and to make a long story short, I spent 11 days in ICU, received 14 blood transfusions, and was days away from exploratory surgery. My bleeding stopped the day a coworker lit a candle for me at St Patrick's Cathedral. I stayed home for the next 2 months, and returned to work in a fog. The world was spinning past me and I had difficulty acclimating. I put myself on St John's Wort and cried a lot.

Fast forward another 3 years, fall of 2000. son entering high school, with an attitude I did not care for. I started noticing chest pains and a lot of pressure. It was not associated with breathing, it was just there. I had a little cough that I associated with allergies. My voice would get hoarse on occasion, but I was a teacher and talked all day. I wasn't feeling right, and spoke to my oncologist. I cried in his office, and he told me about his problems. I left there knowing that was the last time I would see him. It was time to move on.

I knew that breast cancer could spread to the lungs, and became terrified. It took me two months to get the courage up to see the doctor. When she came into the room I became hysterical. She gave me Buspar for anxiety, and ordered a chest xray a few weeks before Christmas. I spent the holidays in my own little world, not feeling well, not talking about it. My family had been through so much with me. If I was dying, I didn't want to worry them now. It was 3 weeks after the holidays when I heard from the doctor. It was pneumonia, and she ordered drugs and a follow up xray. I waited until March of 2001 to get the xray. I had it on a Tuesday, and that night, had a panic attack. I was awake for hours with a rapid heartbeat. I called in sick, went to the doctors, and had an EKG. It was normal, but I was not. The other doctor saw me, told me the chest xray showed a nodule, and when I became hysterical, gave me Paxil and a script for a CT scan, whatever that was. At least I stopped crying.

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