I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was only 28 years old. It has been an emotionally charged and mentally draining battle since then.
I’m fortunate I have a strong support system in my family and friends. “You’re a strong woman, Penelope. You can do this.”
They encouraged me to look into supplementary methods to deal with cancer and therapies that may help my mental well-being as I go through this journey towards recovery.
My sweet husband gave me an aromatherapy kit to help me in my morning meditations. My sister would pick me up every Sunday for an afternoon reflection walk in the park.
I’m grateful for the positivity that I have now despite my continuous battle with cancer. But I was not always this brave, especially when I first found out about my condition.
It Started With Some Painful News
I first felt the pain in my right breast after my morning jog on a Saturday. I went home earlier than usual and went straight to the bathroom to take a shower.
Instinctively, I checked my right breast. My heart dropped when I felt a little lump on one side of it near my armpit. I dialed the hospital to book an appointment for a check-up later that day.
As I waited anxiously in the reception area, I thought of my Aunt Jo. She was diagnosed with lobular carcinoma when she was just 35.
“I’m 28. It’s too early for me,” I told myself as my eyes welled up. The receptionist had to call my name twice before I heard her.
Dr. Evie asked me some questions about the breast lump as she did a breast exam. I knew there was something wrong when she advised me to do a routine mammogram, breast ultrasound, and other blood tests.
After my breast ultrasound, Dr. Evie confirmed my fears. The lump on the side of my right breast is not just a benign cyst but a tumor.
I felt weak and betrayed. Why me?
When I got home, my husband was waiting for me with a take-out from our favorite restaurant. I hesitantly sat at the dining table while I stared at him, unable to speak.
The moment when Ryan asked me what was wrong, I started crying. He hugged me as I told him “I have cancer.”
Accepting the Challenge
Ryan looked at me, shocked. Then after almost a minute, he embraced me even tighter and started sobbing too.
Instantly, I felt another wave of fear. Who will take care of Ryan if I die from this cancer? Will we ever have kids? What if I lose him? This rush of horror and panic took over me, and I started to squeal “I’m sorry” without knowing why.
When we went back to the clinic, Dr. Evie explained everything that we needed to know to get started on my treatment. She recommended lumpectomy to remove the tumor and breast radiation therapy after the surgery to kill the cancer cells.
Undergoing Surgery and Therapy
The anxiety we both felt overwhelmed us even before the surgery and as I started my radiation therapy, after more than a week of recovery.
I agreed to do external beam radiation to kill all the cancer cells and protect the healthy tissues in my right breast. Dr. Evie recommended doing five days of therapy per week for six weeks.
Before starting my first therapy, I had to undergo a planning session to map out the area to be treated. I was carefully positioned in an immobilization device, and the radiologist started to reduce the dose near my heart and lungs.
Then, a tattoo device was used to permanently mark the treatment area. The simulation process took more than an hour. We scheduled my first radiation therapy after the simulation process.
When it was time for the therapy, my heart was pounding. I was led to the immobilization device. I lied on my stomach, then put both of my hands above my head.
The radiologist asked me to be still and then turned the machine on. I heard a whirring sound as I forced myself to relax. I thought of my husband waiting for me outside and tried to stay positive.
The session only took 30 seconds to a minute, but it felt like hours, and I felt exhausted after. We went straight home and hoped for the best. If you’re thinking od undergoing the same prcedure I went in, visit areaguides.net to see the nearest facility!
Building a Support System
After a week of therapy sessions, I noticed some redness and discoloration on my right breast. I knew it was expected with radiation therapy, but I still felt worried and insecure.
I felt older and unattractive on most days. But my husband never failed to cheer me up and encourage me to fight harder. My family has always been there to support me as well. They never let me feel that I was alone fighting this.
It took me a while, but I’m now starting to see the positive side of my condition. I now wake up every morning feeling grateful that I’m still alive. More than ever, I’m motivated to live a healthy, meaningful life, one day at a time.