MEET OUR GO PINK CAMPAIGN SUPER HERO CHARECE
We want to encourage you to purchase our pink, rose and pinkish artisan made hand crafted jewelry so we can donate 10% from all GO PINK CAMPAIGN sales to Charece. The GO PINK CAMPAIGN will end 11/8/2016
My name is Charece and I just turned thirty-one in June of this year. I've dealt with Crohn's disease since I was nineteen, so I'm no stranger to doctors, hospitals, needles, potent drugs, and chronic illness. Last year I was also diagnosed with psoriasis, which created another hurdle that I had to learn to clear. I can thankfully say that today my Crohn's disease and psoriasis are in remission, which is wonderful. However, a significant new hurdle has been thrust in my path that I did not see coming. On September 2nd of this year I was unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer.
My journey with breast cancer started when I found a lump in my left breast while showering. Shortly after I noticed that my nipple was oddly inverted. My husband examined it and recommended that I see my doctor. This scared me, but I thought nothing of it as I had a lump when I was twenty. It turned out to be a fat deposit caused by my medication. The very next day I called my doctor to get the lump and nipple checked out. When I arrived my doctor greeted me with the same friendly, reassuring smile I had seen a dozen times. Everything seemed fine until she felt the lump and her face changed. I could see the fear on her face. She told me she was immediately sending me off for an ultrasound and a mammogram.
I did not expect this, but I thought it would turn out to be nothing. Just in case, I had my Mother come with me. I arrived for my ultrasound and mammogram. I was given a warm cotton robe to place over the flimsy hospital gown. Soothing music was playing in the waiting room, and the lighting was comforting like a nice fire place glow.
My technician came in and began the mammogram. It wasn’t as bad as I had expected. I returned to the comfort of the waiting room while I waited for the ultrasound. After a few minutes that seemed to last forever, the nurse came out and got me ready for the ultrasound. She took a lot of pictures and there were loud, weird clicking sounds behind my head which made me nervous. Finally the technician finished and told me to hang tight while she got the radiologist.
The radiologist came in, and the smiles were gone. She had a distinct look of concern on her face. She told me she would like to do a biopsy of the mass. This is the first time that I had heard the word “mass”. I said okay, asked why this was necessary. She paused, looked me in the eyes, and said carefully, “I think this is going to be cancer, so I want to biopsy it and place a titanium rod in your breast and your sentinel lymph node in case you have to do chemotherapy.” Throughout all the hardships, the pain, prescriptions, treatments, injections, emergency room visits, and medical bills, that was the worst news that I had ever heard. It's the kind of news that knocks the breath out of you, and tears start running down your cheeks. I hyperventilated, and asked for my mom.
My mother came into the room, and she held my hand. The technician numbed me and began the biopsy process. Tears fell with every click of biopsy pen. I couldn’t speak. My mind was racing. After all my health problems, I now have breast cancer. I was in complete shock. The worse part was that I wouldn’t know the findings of the biopsy for 2 days. I felt sick to my stomach.
Two days later, around 8 a.m. I got the call from my doctor. I have breast cancer. We both cried together on the phone. This woman who already knew the hardships I have been through had given me the worst news of my life. Luckily, I had my best friend with me. She held me and we cried. We cried for what felt like a whole day. The worst part of being diagnosed with cancer was that no-one had any other information. You have to wait to see the Oncologist and then in my case the surgeon.
I saw the surgeon the very next Monday, as my insurance moves fast. He told me how big he thought the tumor was (2.8 cm), and he told me that the biopsy from my lymph node came back clear which hopefully meant that the cancer had not spread. In contrast to the diagnosis, that felt like the best news I had heard in my life. I felt like I had a chance. After hearing that, I was all business. I found what needed to be done, and said let's do it. My surgeon recommended a complete left mastectomy due to the location and size of my tumor, directly behind my left nipple in the duct. I agreed. I would be going to surgery in 4 days. I was not prepared. I was overwhelmed by how fast everything was happening, but I said okay.
I had surgery that Friday afternoon. It took 3 hours to remove 3 lymph nodes and all the tissue from my left breast. The pain upon waking was almost unbearable. I stayed in the hospital for 5 days. As I type this I am 19 days post-operation, and am amazed that the cancer is gone. I’ll do genetic testing to see if I have the BRCA gene that predisposes me to cancer. If so, I’ll be doing this again. I’ll be on hormone therapy to block the estrogen that feeds the tumor for the next ten years. I still wake up at night, and for just a moment, forget what I have been through and how things have changed. I’m anxiously waiting to go back to work and get back to my "normal" life. I lost a breast, but I have once again found love, compassion, and fortitude.
My Oncologist sent my tumor to be biopsied so we know if we are looking at chemo or radiation. I will not find out those results till the 17th of October so now I just wait. Waiting is the hardest part but I have accepted which ever direction we need to go. I trust my doctors and I know they have my best interests at heart. I'm not going to lie the thought of losing my hair breaks my heart but I'm going to do what I have to do to survive and thrive.
This experience has inspired me to write a book so other young women don't have to go through this frightening journey alone. I want to be a beacon of hope and an inspiration to them, helping guide them through their journey from diagnosis to the long road to recovery. I also want to raise awareness for young women to get checked regularly. After all, I'm 31 years old with breast cancer.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
I find these words to ring true, if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer do not despair. This is a journey, and this journey has already made me so much stronger than I was. It is amazing what you can accomplish and how much courage and strength that comes from within.
Thank you for listening to my voice and being part of my journey.