Gregarious, down to earth and passionate about early detection, T. discovered a small lump in her breast during a self-exam in 2009. Seven years earlier, she had breast augmentation. Because implants can make it more difficult for doctors to find cancer, T. made regular breast self-exams part of her routine.
If I hadn't become an advocate for myself, I don't know where I'd be, she says. Caught at an early stage, her cancer is now in remission.
Today, T. is sharing her story to encourage other women to do regular breast self-exams, so that they know if and when something unusual is found. T.'s story is part of a booklet called I Am a Breast Cancer Survivor.
Here's an excerpt of T.'s testimonial:
I am truly happy for this experience in that it opened my eyes to just how wonderful people can be. It taught me that being positive is the most important thing. Not to worry about how it happened, but to find it and do something about it. And for that, I am truly grateful.
At Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, T. saw medical oncologist Dr. Jeff Sharman and radiation oncologist Dr. David Fryefield.
Explaining her experience with chemotherapy treatment, she writes:
I had only a vague idea about chemo; mostly frightening mental images of nausea, pain, and saying goodbye. The reality of it was actually a relief. It was the fatigue that I didn't know what to do with. It was really rough to feel fine but to be completely exhausted. Such a weird contradiction.
After being treated at WVCI, she turned to plastic surgeon Dr. Lee B. Daniel, who played an integral role in helping her feel like herself again. Dr. Daniel performed T.'s breast augmentation seven years prior to her cancer diagnosis, served as co-surgeon during her mastectomy and later handled her reconstruction.
In addition to her participation in the booklet, which is available at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, T. recently shared her story with KMTR. You can watch her interview here.
In her own words, here are a few things T. learned about cancer during her journey:
I've learned that I have a very high tolerance for pain, and I can do what I want when I set my mind to it.
I've learned that statistics are good if you are a statistician, but it won't tell you if you are going to get cancer.
I've learned that I am surrounded by a host of family and friends who have sent emails, gifts, cards, prepared meals - people I have known but not known well, acquaintances really, but because of their generous hearts they became additional support when I needed it most. I can not thank you all enough for your love, and friendship and warmth. You have helped me in my healing process every day. You have literally saved my life. I have saved all the cards and emails and gifts and I will treasure them - and you - always.