By, Theresa Wiza, Guest Blogger
Today, July 31, 2015, marks the final day of my relationship with breast cancer. You see, today, I just took my final chemo pill! Today I can say good-bye to cancer and everything related to cancer. It took six years of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, and taking a chemo pill every day to get to where I am today.
Six years ago, in May of 2009, my mammogram showed no signs of cancer. By September, I had Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). It took four short months for me to find a lump, quite by accident, that turned out to be cancerous. What if I had waited an entire year to get another mammogram?
Getting yearly mammograms doesn’t insure that you will never get cancer. You must perform self-exams – often – in order to catch breast cancer early. What followed the discovery of that lump was a journey filled with decisions about whether or not to have a mastectomy or a lumpectomy, about what type of chemo cocktail I would take, months of recovery, hair loss, and a myriad other reactions to the invading monster that took over my life.
The journey was long and arduous. Sometimes just getting out of bed was a struggle. I wanted to remember what I was experiencing, because I was told that my type of cancer had a high recurrence rate. If I ever got it again, I wanted to make decisions based on my previous experiences, and I wanted to remember the plethora of information I received. I wanted to remember the pain I endured with the sentinel node biopsy. So I wrote about my day to day battles and posted the articles about my journey on a web site that no longer exists.
After that web site disappeared, I compiled all of those articles into one article, and it now appears on one of my blogs – Diagnosis: Breast Cancer: Journal of a Woman Recently Diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
I’ve never run a marathon, but upon reaching this day, this final chemo pill-taking day, I feel triumphant. My journey is over. The final pill has been taken. I am strong. I won!
To celebrate this day, I am getting a tattoo with an upside-down breast cancer ribbon. The word, SURVIVOR, will be written on the inside of the ribbon. The reason I want the ribbon upside down is because I want the two pieces of the ribbon to be a butterfly’s antenna, under which and around the loop will appear butterfly wings. One of my favorite quotes is, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”
Cancer is like that. You can look upon it as a death sentence or you can look upon it as just another challenge to overcome. Along with challenges, these past 6 years have come with many changes. Some of my family members have gotten married. Three more babies were born into my family, and my father died. One of my grandsons developed and is currently being treated for bone cancer. So cancer hasn’t completely left my family. My grandson is now fighting his own battle, which he is already winning. He didn’t lose his leg!
I hope that whatever challenges you face, you will look upon them as caterpillars, so you can appreciate and welcome the day you soar as a butterfly!