My cancer journey started 25 years ago when the company I worked for; Lee Jeans started Lee National Denim Day. We worked to raise money for research, and I was privileged to lead this program. In 20 years, we had raised over $100 million for research and I had been fortunate to work with some of the leading breast cancer research doctors across the country.Then, 15 years ago when my best friend was diagnosed with triple negative her-2 positive breast cancer I was able to tap into this amazing community to help her find the right treatment. 10 years later she is cancer free.
11 months ago I found myself on the other side, I too would be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. March 15, 2019, I received the call that I had invasive ductal carcinoma, aka breast cancer. All the studying I had done immediately left my head. I was in shock and had no idea what would come next. We had just moved to Colorado, and my new doctors recommended I get a mammogram. At 56, I had regular mammograms and at times had to comeback for additional test as I had dense breast tissue. When the doctors called to have me comeback for more testing, all I thought was, “Oh, a new doctor and my dense tissue, they were doing what my previous doctors had done.”
Once they started the sonogram and immediately went to my right armpit, I knew this was different. After 15 minutes they scheduled my biopsy for Wednesday, and Friday we received the call with the news, you have Invasive ductal carcinoma. I was devastated.
I’m one of the lucky ones, who caught this diagnosis early. While I had 3 spots in my right breast (which I could never feel – thank god for mammograms!) it had not spread to my lymph nodes and I did not need radiation or chemotherapy.
My husband Matt is my Superhero. I had my double mastectomy in May 2019, and reconstruction started immediately. He has gone to EVERY doctor appointment with me. His love and humor has made this journey so much easier. At times he has been my Nurse Ratchet, but I love him so much for how well he has taken care of me.
My friends and family may not all live in Colorado, most live here in Kansas City. While they were not physically with me, I felt their love and support every day. Finally, I can say Breast Cancer saved my life. How? Well, during a checkup with my oncologist, Dr. Diab they noticed something on my back. They suggested I go get it looked at as soon as possible. Yep, you guessed it, I had melanoma on my back. Again, caught early, but not sure if we would have spotted this with out a doctor checking me out. I am now cancer free and finishing up my reconstruction next month. What a journey, but so grateful to my family and friends who have been there for me every step. Now it’s my time to pay it forward!