Well, I did a terrible thing. I went for three years without a mammogram, working, going camping, and just doing whatever I wanted to do. The doctor’s office would make an appointment for me and I’d cancel it. Then I realized I had a lump and I made an appointment and had a mammogram. I knew they’d be calling me back in, and two days later they did. I went for a diagnostic ultrasound, then a biopsy, and was diagnosed with breast cancer on July 26, 2013.
When I learned I had breast cancer I did an online search and found the PBCC. I didn’t know where else to turn and the PBCC was so helpful! I got my Friends Like Me care package within a week. There was so much good information. It gave me something to concentrate on.
I had a modified radical mastectomy, then chemo, took a month off to rest, and then I had 36 radiation treatments.
When I was on my 3rd of 20 chemo treatments, my Family Medical Leave (FMLA) ran out and I lost my job. I was trying to keep up with COBRA payments, and I think what happens is that nobody wants to talk about not being able to pay their bills. But I eventually mentioned it to my niece who lives in another state and she knew someone there who got coverage through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act (BCCPT). I called the PBCC to see if that was available in PA and you helped me find out how to apply. It was such a huge relief, not having to worry about how to come up with the COBRA payments!
My husband was such a great support. He said, “You can’t give up now. You have to keep on going.” The other biggest help I had was Luca, a yellow golden retriever. Luca is a therapy dog who comes to UPMC Magee and is owned by Sister Pat, a Catholic nun. Pets with Heart is a program of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden PA. All throughout my chemo treatments, Sister Pat brought Luca in and she would sit with me. I never would have done as well without her.
One thing I want other women to know is not to be upset if they have chemo fog. If you forget things, just laugh about it. It’s healthier. Look on the bright side because there are so many people that want to help you. Unity Journey of Hope, a nonprofit organization working to fulfill wishes for adults facing illnesses, granted me a wish. I haven’t been able to ride bikes or ski or travel like I used to do because I’ve had too much pain and discomfort. But I have always wanted to eat in a 5-star restaurant and they granted me that wish!