Tag Archives: beating breast cancer

Life Lessons from Sanibel Island

15 Aug

Sanibel Island: tropical flora and fauna create a lush backdrop for sea shells so abundant that one must bear witness in person to truly comprehend. Manatees frolic carefree in canals while alligators sunbath on the river’s edge. Miles of National Wildlife Refuge lined with bike trails occupied by both residents and visitors. Everyone giddy with excitement to observe the nightly performance by the sunset, painting the sky with a palette of breathtaking color. The nightlife on the beach made up of nesting sea turtles and later their hatchlings, content to swim millions of miles to return to this sanctuary island every year. A unique tourist destination and home to an eclectic group of islanders void of stop lights or high rise hotels.

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Test Result Anxiety

24 Sep

 

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The email seemed innocent enough:  “Your medical records have been updated.”  My hands started to tremble and I felt slightly sick to my stomach.  I couldn’t log in quickly enough.  I had to resist the urge to hide my eyes behind my hands while the results updated…I wanted one more moment of innocence.  All of the air left my lungs when I realized this was NOT the test result I was anticipating. 

 Back to the waiting game…

What could possibly cause so much anxiety, you ask?

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I AM CANCER FREE!!!!!!

17 Apr

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After surviving the eye of the storm, I was exhausted physically and emotionally.  Out of nowhere, came the biggest, brightest rainbow that I’ve seen since the day I was diagnosed:  no cancer in any of the 22 lymph nodes:

I AM CANCER FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hugged my husband through tears, called my mom, sister, fellow survivors and friends.  My oldest son did a “mom is cancer free” dance and my youngest hugged me and cheered.  I felt overwhelming relief and joy…and yet a sense of disbelief and underlying fear that the news might not be true.

I saw my surgical oncologist the following Monday and was nervous about the appointment.  What if she told me that the test results were wrong?  Or there was something else wrong.  Dr. Oruwari walked in with the biggest smile on her face and gave me a hug!  She was celebrating the pathology report and no cancer in the lymph nodes.  I asked her if I was cancer free and she gave me the answer that all oncologists seem to have for me:  ”As far as we can tell, you do not have cancer.  We can never tell for sure if it will come back, but at this point, you are cancer free.”

Breast cancer is unique in that there aren’t any blood tests that truly determine that the cancer is gone.  They can watch for changes in certain areas of blood work that suggest the cancer may have metastasized (moved to the other parts of the body) but no one test says you are totally cancer free.  They can also do MRI’s, cat scans, etc if blood work suggests a problem, but cancer won’t show up on the imaging until it has grown to a certain point.  I really wanted a more definitive answer.  I want to see it on paper, in black and white:  “Beverly, you are cancer free.”

I know I’m not alone.  I have talked to and read about many other women feeling the same way when told they are cancer free.  Many women struggle the most when their journey through treatment is completed.  You can finally take a deep breath and relax and the reality of having cancer hits you.

I suppose that’s why I have been a bit reluctant to celebrate whole heartedly.  I’m also recovering from surgery and have a drain connected to my underarm…that doesn’t help.  At this point, I am focusing on recovering and getting started with radiation.  I see my radiation oncologist in two days to do the preliminary work…six weeks of radiation to start next week.  My excitement is building as I see end of treatment in sight.  Actually, writing this blog today has helped me let go of some of that hesitation and feel more excited than I’ve felt all week.  I hope that my fellow warriors can read this and realize that there is no right or wrong way to feel at any point in the journey.

Reality is setting in:  I am cancer free!!!!!!!!  Woo Hoo!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for reading!

Beverly

For more information about The Breast Cancer Warrior, visit my website at www.breastcancerwarrior.org.  Watch my video to learn how I became the Breast Cancer Warrior by clicking here.

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