At Decode Digital, breast cancer awareness is a cause that’s near and dear to our hearts. But we want to go a step beyond raising awareness. We want you to take action, get to know your breasts, and help provide mammograms to uninsured and underserved women in Texas.
After all, the key to successful treatment is early detection. In fact, the 5-year survival rate of stage 1 breast cancer after treatment is nearly 100%! But even if you’re not in the market for a mammogram, you should be on the lookout for changes in your breasts. Your risk of breast cancer increases as you age, but it’s still possible to get it in your early years.
This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re all about #EarlyDEtection. Join our team of space unicorns as we monitor our moons, spread the word across the solar system, and help women in need down here on earth.
What age were you diagnosed?
I had just turned 45 years old.
What made you go to the doctor? Did you notice a change?
I was about 9 months late in getting my mammogram because I had just had surgery. One night I felt a throbbing pain in my breast and also a lump in my armpit. I immediately felt that something wasn’t right. And everywhere you read, they say “cancer doesn’t hurt,” but mine did. That pain saved my life. Always trust your instincts, do breast self-exams, and get annual mammograms. If caught early, it makes a world of difference in treatment and survival rates.
During your treatment, what helped you to stay positive?
Surrounding myself with strong people who held me up and were there for me. Taking one day at a time. And allowing myself to be sad now and then, as long as it was just for a short time.
Is there anything in particular you struggled with during treatment? Is there anything that
helped, or would have helped?
I suffered lots of side effects from the various drugs I was on, including severe pain in my bones from one of my drugs. The nurses had trouble accessing my veins through my portacath, which never worked correctly, so I endured thick needle sticks and lots of anxiety. I exercised and walked throughout my treatments, and that helped both physically and emotionally. I also got massages regularly and did acupuncture — all good!!
Is there anything that women need (that’s not talked about frequently) when they’re going through
Set boundaries with negative people whose presence brings you down. They are out there, sometimes family and friends - they don’t know how to support you in a positive way. Limit your time around them. You are already dealing with so much, and they will make your situation worse.
What words of advice would you give someone who has recently been diagnosed with breast
There is definitely a silver lining, so look for it. Find something positive out of this experience. It will make you stronger and you will appreciate your life in a profoundly different way.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?
The silver lining for me was the outpouring of love I felt from my family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and acquaintances. I felt so loved and couldn’t believe how much people cared. My relationships with my husband and two sons were strengthened - now we truly know how fragile life can get and how lucky we are to wake up happy and healthy. Each day is a gift!!