In 1991, information on breast cancer was thin and even though I was a librarian steeped in new health information, I knew sweet all about the disease.
One of my first 'encounters' with it was in high school. One of my friends' mothers was diagnosed with “it” and we were horrified that her chest and arms were disfigured by whatever treatments she had.
Once my cancer was confirmed with a biopsy, my diagnosis hit, and just like that I felt like I had a tiger by the tail. First: FEAR – the events and procedures my immediate future would bring started to appear very real, and they took me back to the experience of my high school friend's mom.
Fortunately, it didn't take long for me to rally. There's nothing like trying to control a breast cancer tiger to focus the mind. I was wading around in my family history searching for clues and reading bits and bobs of breast cancer information at the same time. Inevitably, the “why me” emerged. There was no family cancer in either my mother or father's families. I exercised. I took the skin off my chicken. I liked eating broccoli. And I hardly ever drank. I whined, “it isn't fair,” - as if breast cancer could be fair! (I have since discovered that one of my first cousins developed it post menopausaly.)
My “why me” whine turned into anger. My daughter and mother were now first-degree relatives and their danger levels were increased because of me.
I agreed with the treatment plan devised by the tumor team at the British Columbia Cancer Agency. My verdict: 16 treatments of radiation followed and that was it (note: treatments have evolved since then). My right breast has a faint 2 ½ inch scar from the surgery.