Shauna Wears Pink

I will never forget the day my doctor uttered those horrifying words “I am sorry to tell you, but that is a cancer tumor that you have in your left breast”. I was 33 years old, and my life changed forever. I invite you to read my story, learn from it and hopefully be inspired to reach out to other young women living with and beyond breast cancer.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My Breast Cancer Diagnosis:


I will never forget the day my doctor uttered those horrifying words “I am sorry to tell you, but that is a cancer tumor that you have in your left breast”. I was 33 years old. The date was August 4, 2005. In a split second my life changed forever. I did not cry, but strained instead to listen to my doctor in an attempt to comprehend the magnitude of the situation. Meanwhile all I could think about was that I was too young to die. My mind, body and soul seemed to scream the thought over and over again. Finally, after seeing portions of my life flash before my eyes…..my beautiful wedding to my husband on a hilltop overlooking the ocean in Fiji, the birth of my beautiful son one year prior…..I was finally able to regain enough focus to ask what stage of cancer I had. My doctor said it was too early to tell, but I would eventually learn that I had Stage II cancer because my cancer and spread from my left breast into the lymph nodes under my arm. My doctor offered a few other sage words of advice and then recommended a local oncologist group. One piece of advice that he gave me would continue to ring true during the course of my treatment. My doctor encouraged me to remain in Austin for my treatment. He informed me that the protocols and treatment for most breast cancer is standardized throughout the United Statues. Thus, there was no need for me to go running off to MD Anderson and put myself and my family through months of stressful travel to Houston, when the oncologists in Austin would utilize the same protocols as MD Anderson. Nothing against MD Anderson of course which is a wonderful cancer treatment facility which provides services to those with special types of breast cancer or unusual circumstances surrounding their breast cancer such as diagnosis while pregnant. I kept asking myself "How at the age of 33 did I come to have breast cancer?". I came from a healthy family with no history of cancer. I am very healthy (aside from the breast cancer). I exercise regularly, eat well, and have regular check-ups. In fact it was I who first found the lump and had the initiative to go see my gynecologist. I had breast fed my son for 8 months during which time it is impossible to identify any type of lump in the breast. I had thought at one point in time that I felt one, but it was just impossible to tell due to the constant growth and shrinking of milk ducts. It was not until after I stopped breast feeding and things shrank back to their normal size that I realized that I did have a good sized lump that just did not seem to be going away. So finally one day I called my gynecologist and went in for an appointment. He told me that it was probably just a clogged milk duct and nothing to worry about, but he wrote me a script for an ultrasound anyway. I let that lay around on the seat of my car for a couple weeks and then finally decided to take it seriously and called and made an appointment at a local women’s imaging center all the while thinking: “There is no way I have any type of cancer, I am too young and too healthy. What are the odds?” When I finally went for the ultrasound what the technician and I both saw on the screen was alarming. There was indeed a big black spot in the middle of my breast. They quickly whisked me off for a mammogram and indicated that they were going to recommend a biopsy. My gynecologist called me within minutes of receiving the results and told me to make an appointment with a surgeon for a surgical biopsy. His nurse said that if I could not get in with the doctor they recommended that I should immediately see anyone else in the practice that was available. I slowly began to become alarmed. What scarred me was the fact that each new person that looked at my mammogram seemed to become increasingly concerned for me. So that is how I came to find myself lying on a surgeon’s exam table as he performed a needle and core biopsy of a very large lump in my breast on my son’s 1st birthday and what should have been a day of joy and celebration.

7 Comments:

  • At 6:44 PM, Blogger Ann said…

    Shauna, Your article is so great. I look forward to reading as you keep writing. I know how you felt when the doctor told you that you had cancer. I just felt like he was talking to someone else.. he couldn't be talking to me. I was 49 at the time and I guess kind of in shock although like you, I could tell when each doctor examined me I could see the concern in their eyes and I knew in my heart they were sure it was the dreaded "C" word. I am nearly 7 years out and going for only yearly checkups now. You hang in there girl.. you are a survivor!! Oh by the way.. you know me.. I am Marla's mom.. Take care.
    Ann Tidwell

     
  • At 7:31 PM, Blogger D'Anne said…

    Shauna,
    Beautifully written; thank you so much for sharing your feelings.
    Reading the events unfold in black and white is so shocking and unbelievable, even though I have heard the account first hand from you each week.
    I am so proud of your tenacity, courage and spirit, and look forward to reading more of your thoughts.
    Go hero go!

     
  • At 8:58 AM, Blogger rachel said…

    Shauna, Dave and I think about you every day. You first blog entry is incredibly moving and I am astounded by your strength. We love you and are sending you big hugs from NYC!
    Love to Kirk and Cooper.
    xo, *Rachel & Dave

     
  • At 11:26 AM, Blogger Jon Freach said…

    Keep it coming, sister.

    Jon

     
  • At 2:24 PM, Blogger Camilla said…

    Shauna,
    Thank you for sharing your experience with others. There is such strength in the way you tell your story. I truly admire your honesty and wish you the best as you navigate along this new path of your life. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future. I am inspired by your courage!
    Camilla

     
  • At 11:07 AM, Blogger Cheech said…

    Shauna,
    Thank you for sharing your story. It is so encouraging and we are so proud of you! There is not a single day that has gone by that the kids haven't prayed for you and Kirk and Cooper. You are constantly in our thoughts!
    Much Love..Bridget

     
  • At 2:07 PM, Blogger elena said…

    Shauna,
    From survivor to survivor,
    I read this the day you sent it out. This is the stuff that we read that lights fires in our souls. I know it did for me. There are times that I'll read this, sometimes twice in one day and I know the tenacity it takes to battle this illness and you certainly have it. As women, we are strong. We deliver babies, keep a house and work long hard hours. Its not until you hear the words "you have cancer" that you realize just how strong you really are. When friends and family ask "how are you today" you answer, "I'm fine, doing ok", but inside you can be a mess. But you don't let that show, because once again "you are a strong woman". You do this beautifully, but with a lot of hidden fears that you won't show to the world. You are an inspiration to me every day. Keep that fire burning!
    Much love to you and your family,
    Elena

     

Post a Comment

<< Home