Disclosure :: Our breast cancer awareness series is sponsored by Touro Infirmary.
While sitting at the computer three years ago doing schoolwork, I decided to do a breast self exam. While examining my breast, I discovered a painful lump. I didn’t think it was anything to worry about because I’d had a mammogram earlier that year, and the results came back indicating everything was normal. However, I wanted to get it checked out so I decided to schedule an appointment with my gynecologist.
Although I’d had a mammogram months prior, I underwent another mammogram, an ultrasound, and a biopsy. The results from the biopsy indicated the lump was Stage 2 breast cancer. I was only 42 years old. My mind immediately went to my then 5- year old daughter, and I just lost it in the doctor’s office.
After regaining my composure, I was determined to not allow anything to interfere with my duties as a mother or earning the Master’s Degree in counseling. Giving up wasn’t an option because I had my daughter, my family, and friends praying and pushing me to fight with every ounce of my being.
A Team Approach to Treatment
I was treated by several Touro doctors: my gynecologist, a psychologist, a surgical oncologist, plastic surgeon and others. With the guidance of me team, I decided to have a unilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, followed by chemotherapy and hormone therapy.
Although I was informed that I would lose all of my hair, I didn’t believe it. However in March of 2013, after my second or third treatment, I was bald. I wasn’t upset; I embraced my baldness and “sported” my bald head with pride because it was yet another piece to my journey. Even though chemotherapy knocked me down a few, I continued to fight by getting back up.
Perseverance and Strength
As I look back, I glance at my Master’s Degree, my scars, and my beautiful daughter, and am reminded of “My Cancer Journey” and how I overcame it all. My faith allowed me to press on and continue so I could share my story with mothers and daughters near and far. Hearing the words “You have Stage … cancer” can be devastating news; however, after digesting the news, newly diagnosed patients must become determined to fight and take the necessary steps to get the best possible treatment plan.
It has been 3 years now, and I am excited to tell my story to help those who have received a cancer diagnosis. After going through my journey, I can say from experience that being diagnosed with cancer doesn’t have to be the end. If we get the news and put it in our minds that we are going to do everything in our power to fight and not let it get us down, we will persevere.
Now that I am finished with treatment, I am back working out with my personal trainer and attending the monthly breast cancer support group meetings. I am also excited that I can get back to doing the things I love, like attending field trips with my daughter again. Spending time with her as much as I can is important.
I know I can’t go back and catch up for lost time; however, every day I am given, I will spend it enjoying my beautiful daughter.
Touro is raising breast health awareness during October and building a community focused on beating breast cancer. Join us by visiting 31DaysofPink.com
About Alicia Thomas
Alicia Thomas is a young mother and breast cancer survivor.