I will be hitting 7 years cancer free in October. I cannot convey enough how wonder the staff at St. Jude was from the first day I went in to see my primary care doctor to even today. I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 28 years old. I didn’t get tested for the gene until after I was diagnosed but I knew it was always a strong possibility. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34. She fought a long hard 5 years before losing her battle in 1991, when I was only 10 years old.
I never thought about the possibility of having breast cancer, until I found a lump and a few days later my lymph nodes were painfully swollen. I went to see my primary care physician, Dr. Ford, who immediately sent me over for a mammogram. The mammogram showed a cyst and underneath the cyst, they found a solid mass. This was the start of many appointments and procedures that come with being diagnosed. It's definitely not like the movies where you get you diagnosis within an hour of being admitted into the hospital.
I met with Dr. Smith for my initial consult before making an appointment for my biopsy. I was still numb at this point, not thinking too much of all the appointments or the looming possibility that the mass could be cancer. It wasn’t until I was in the exam room for my biopsy, my arm over my head, and the Doctor prepping to stick a needle directly into my breast, it hit me...I have breast cancer. The flood of emotion of what was to come overwhelmed me and I started to sob, as quietly as I could.
I distinctively remember the Doctor asking me if I was crying because it hurt and I shook my head no. He paused and put his hand on my shoulder and tried to calm me down. When he was done the nurse took me into another room for a mammogram. At this point, my sobbing was no longer quiet. I confessed to her that I knew my results would be positive. I don't remember the conversation we had but in the end we were both crying. Her name was Connie, I think. She told me I had the room for however long I needed it and gave me a hug. I took advantage of this time to collect myself. What I didn't know is the nurse called Dr. Smith who cut her lunch short to see me. She didn't come in to discuss the procedure, or give me some kind of medical pep talk, she came in to give me a hug and provide some comfort. I cried into her shoulder for a few minutes, I'm sure I left a spot of tries on her blouse.
I share this particular story because this kindness is what gave me strength to endure the next few months of treatment. I’m not sure if the Doctor from the biopsy remembers me or if Connie can recall that day, but I can and always will. The empathy they showed me is what gave me the confidence that I choose the right hospital and medical staff. To them, I was a person not just a name on a file. I could really go on and on about how wonderful everyone was, especially how great Dr. Ford and Dr. Patel have been to me over the years. I’ll leave my story at this because after I left the hospital that day, I no longer had the overwhelming feeling of dread but overcoming feeling that things will be okay.