I woke up the morning of my 29th birthday with anticipation, completely unprepared for the news my doctor would give me later in the day. Optimism turned to shock, fear and a realization of how uninformed I was about what would become the focal point of my life for the next many months. The members of my oncology team provided information, support and comfort, which led me to choose a lifesaving mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
That day began my battle with breast cancer, which I won handily thanks in great part to the thoughtful, dedicated Health First oncology team. For a 29-year-old, the decision, surgery and altering of my figure was tough. I forged through it and slowly adjusted to my new body and was fortunate to be cancer free for 16 years. It was the right decision, and allowed me to enjoy many successes including marrying the love of my life, and giving birth to my two amazing children. My life and prognosis were both very good.
In 2012, bad news centered on cancer hit me again. A large tumor was found in my chest; ironically on the mastectomy side. This time the diagnosis was inoperable Stage IV Metastatic breast cancer. Those words still sound horrific to me. I was devastated. It was so hard to accept the diagnosis. How would I take care of my kids and loved ones? My husband and I turned to each other for strength, and again, to a highly talented Health First team of doctors. We were prepared to face whatever treatment plan they recommended.
After following their recommendations for two months, the tumor shrunk 50%. Three months later, it was even smaller, and there was no new growth or active cancer cell activity in the following checkups. By September 2013, my oncologist said I could consider myself in remission. What a relief! Today I am healthy, active and enjoying life with my children, family and friends.
It's hard to convey what an impact the teams of cancer care professionals had on my life and the lives of my family. All of my cancer care has been with Health First physicians. I'm very grateful for their wonderful medical expertise and the diagnostic facilities available right here in Brevard. When it comes to cancer, Health First makes it possible for me and other women and men facing breast cancer in our community to get all of the care and treatment they need locally. It's a blessing for which I can't possibly demonstrate my full appreciation.
Breast cancer is both a physical and emotional journey. Having a dedicated Breast Health Program with the resources and medical professionals to provide a comprehensive approach and who know and understand what patients need will be an invaluable addition to our community. Thank you to all who are making it possible.
"...Health First makes it possible for me and other women and men facing breast cancer in our community to get all of the care and treatment they need locally."
More stories of hope coming soon. If you have a story you would like to share, please let us know.