As Breast Cancer Awareness month fades until next October, it is important for both men and women to keep up with annual check ups.
The Clark Fork Valley Press throughout the month has highlighted many survivors all with different stores of battling the disease. However, like all the survivors have said, don’t wait — take charge of your health and be proactive in searching for the best way to battle for you.
Breast cancer can feel like a lonely road to travel if you have been diagnosed, but it doesn’t mean you have to travel it alone. Talk to your doctors, lean on your family and if you need help don’t be afraid to ask or approach organizations to gain another fighter in your corner as you progress through treatments.
The last highlighted survivor of this series Sandy King tells in her words, her battle and what she learned as she came out the other side a winner:
My Breast Cancer story started in February of 2001. I was 50 years old and had never had a mammogram. My husband had passed away after an 18-year battle with Multiple Sclerosis.
When the new year rolled in, I decided I would have a mammogram and get going with a health plan of some kind.
I was shocked when my doctor called and said I had a large lump under my left arm on my breast.
I felt sure it was nothing because there was no cancer in my family, and I had never been sick, really sick in my entire life.
The news got worse and I was told I had stage 2 cancer.
There were words said about my specific form of cancer like “invasive” and “aggressive.”
I was terrified! I felt alone with a lot of questions. I called several women who had already gone through breast cancer and asked questions to which they did their best to answer. But, you always know this is a personal fight and I will have to make my own decisions.
What made it worse was that I was wondering how long it had been growing since I had never been checked.
So initially, I had a lumpectomy and did chemotherapy every three weeks all summer. My hair and eyebrows fell out, but the worse thing for me was the nausea and fatigue.
My mom, who was 70 years old at the time, would drive up from Heron and go wth me to all my appointments.
In the fall of that same year I was done with chemotherapy and held off on anything else.
Then in January of 2002, when I went for my second mammogram they said I had a couple of suspicious looking lymph nodes so it was recommended I do radiation.
I am not a fan of the procedure. So I opted for a mastectomy instead.
I thought, let’s get it over and done with and move on. Enough was enough.
Soon it will be 17 years since it all started, and though I could have done it all with one surgery instead of two, I guess I did OK making decisions when I didn’t know what to do.
This whole experience has taught me to fully understand the difference of what’s important in life and what’s really important.