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MY STORY ABOUT MY BREAST CANCER My name is Mary Jane MacVicar and this is my testimony of my bout with Breast Cancer. Some have had first hand experience with one of many of women's fears - BREAST CANCER. Let me tell you that having breast cancer is not funny - but I do have a funny little story to tell you - How do you change a cup to a saucer? HAVE A MAMMOGRAM!! It may be you yourself that has been through this situation or maybe your mother, sister, aunt, grandmother or cousins. Regardless, it affects each and every one of us in different ways and how we handle the situation. I was sitting having breakfast one Saturday morning when I felt a sharp pain in my right breast and upon examination, I felt a lump about the size of a golf ball. The following Monday, I went to see my Dr. and when she examined me, she said she was sure that it was just a cyst but would send me for an ultrasound just to be sure. I was very fortunate to have such a caring doctor because she put all wheels in motion immediately. The following Monday, I was having an ultrasound the next day; I was in Windsor having a mammogram. Thursday, I was in seeing the surgeon and on Friday, he scheduled me for a core biopsy. The next visit to the surgeon was making an appointment to have the lump removed. A week after surgery, the surgeon's office called with an appointment to see him the following day. I had mixed feelings about this quick appointment and weighing the results: did I have breast cancer or didn't I? When I did get the news that I did indeed have breast cancer, of course I was somewhat devastated but I was not totally surprised because I was trying to prepare myself in advance for this diagnosis. I was then scheduled 2 weeks later for a partial mastectomy and lymph node dissection. Well there was nothing that was going to keep me down and 2 weeks after my surgery, I was off on a holiday cruise! When I did go into see the surgeon for the final results, I was told that my breast was totally clear but of the I9 lymph nodes that were removed, 2 were positive and one of them was even bigger than the original lump in my breast. I was then sent to see Dr. Caroline Hamm, the Oncologist at the Windsor Cancer Centre to arrange my course of treatment. I had 6 months of chemotherapy and 3-I/2 weeks of radiation and I was extremely fortunate that I was not sick at all and did not lose my hair and I breezed through all my treatments. Whenever I would go in for my chemo treatments, the nurses would always have me drink some cranberry juice beforehand and to this day, I can't drink cranberry juice without it reminding me of my treatments! But I do like it and I do drink it! When I look back on this period of my life, at the beginning, it seemed like it would last forever but now, I find it hard to believe that the time went by so fast, especially the past 4-I/2 years. If it is so common, why do we feel such fear when we think about cancer? Like most things that have scared humans since the beginning of time, what was unseen was most feared. Why do we find it so scary? Certainly this fear of cancer that has plagues us for so long is not nearly the monster that it once was and most people still believe it to be. In the beginning, it is really hard to say "I have breast cancer" and you cry every time you say it. But I honestly think that the more you talk about it, the easier it is to deal with. There will be times when you don't want to talk about or think about it but trust me, it gets easier. If you're scared, confused and lonely, welcome to the club. You and everyone else who has ever been diagnosed with breast cancer or any cancer as far as that goes, has felt much the same way. To help yourself get better, find a support group and sharing your story with others who have traveled the same road is a sure way of fighting loneliness. Others will tell you that they felt exactly the same way you are feeling. Some might say "but I have cancer!" Ok, just don't start living and talking as though you have received an automatic death sentence!! You haven't!! Most people with cancer live for many years and more than half die much later of something completely different. One day, you will feel on top of the world, the next day, you will feel like you have been locked in a spin dryer for an hour!! Millions have survived cancer and so can you. Millions of people in the world today can look back on the day that they ONCE HAD CANCER!. And the new methods of treatments that are available has dramatically improved disease-free survival rates. For instance, dose-dense therapy is gaining popularity and at a 4 year study, disease-free survival was 82% and a 4 year overall survival rate of 92%. I received such wonderful treatment from all the medical personnel that looked after me during my bout with breast cancer and the support from the Canadian Cancer Society that I got involved in a Peer Support program. I took training in Windsor and in London and now, I counsel newly diagnosed cancer patients from all points in Ontario and some in other provinces. I have done in-home visits and phone counseling, whichever the patient prefers and I can do hospital counseling as well. Some people think this is a tough thing to do but I say "No, not at all." Once you have been through this experience yourself, you know what you are dealing with and at least you can tell a newly diagnosed patient that you also have been where they are right now. When I speak to a new patient for the first time, at the end of our conversation, I like to ask them how they are feeling now compared to when we first began our conversation. And it makes me feel good when I hear "Oh I feel so much better now!" That's what makes my position with the Cancer Society as a Peer Support counselor all that much worthwhile. Something else which is very important that assists us in our recovery: we tend to forget our sense of humor. Cancer won't give anyone a sense of humor if they don't have it but a sense of humor can sure get you through the experience. Thank you for letting me share my experience with you. Mary Jane MacVicar Almost 5 year Breast Cancer survivor!!

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Hahaha.... so TRUE!