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    Cancer! Me! How can this be? I sat there reflecting on myself; 44 years old, active, healthy, never smoked, didn’t drink or party. A mother of 5 children. No one in my large immediate family had any signs of cancer. Yet here I was, sitting across from one of the top cancer doctors in the area confirming my worst fears- “yes you have cancer”. A few months prior, I noticed a small pea size lump surrounded with a red rash on my right breast. I own a small horse ranch-I thought maybe a spider out in the barn had bitten me. The rash did not go away, and started to get larger. The small lump was still there. I felt great- not sick in any way. I just had a monogram a few weeks prior. I really did not think it was cancer but decided to see a doctor just to make sure. The doctor diagnosed an “abscess” and prescribed me antibiotics. I finished the medication, but the redness and lump were still there. While taking a shower one evening, I noticed large swelling under my right arm. Growing up on a ranch- I knew what this meant. I immediately called my doctor. The doctor stat ordered testing and stat ordered an appointment with the cancer doctor. I knew at this point, but still held hope. Now here I was being told that I had imflamatory Breast cancer at stage 3C. I needed to immediately start chemo, to stop the cancer from spreading. After 4 months of weekly treatments, I had my first mastectomy. After healing, I started daily radiation. After I healed from the daily radiation at the highest level possible, I went through my second mastectomy and reconstruction. I had a 15% chance of survival and I am still alive today after over 3 years of daily battle. It has not always been easy. My employer of 27 years did not stick by me, and terminated me for taking too much leave. That hurt! But choosing between life and career- there really was no choice. My family is very active in barrel racing and showing horses. There were times I could barely walk to the barn- let alone compete in barrel racing. But my family would saddle my horse and lift me on even if it meant I just walked around for 5 minutes. My youngest children went from having a mom who was very active with them, to having a mom who was bald and sick. But kids understand and love you anyways. The financial strain was enormous. Loss of my salary, cost of medical appointments and medications. But we adjusted. Family and friends rallied around to help. My doctors were amazing. My advice to anyone fighting this monster: Stay positive no matter what you are going through. Do not listen to anyone telling you about someone who died, or how bad it is. Do not read about it for hours on end- become educated- not obsessed. Your hair will grow back. Do not just lay in bed- get up and do something. Listen to your doctors- there are so many people who will tell you they know of a wonder drug-herb-formula-,whatever- they are not doctors-listen to the advice of a medical professional. Do not miss medical appointments. Do not feel guilty because everyone is doing your jobs- its ok- they want to help. Ask for help financially- there are many places to help you. Pray and get close to God for support as well as healing. And last- it is ok to cry. Both you and your family- cancer does not just affect you- it affects the entire family. It’s ok to be mad, sad, and hurt every now and then. Just do not dwell in self -pity. You are still alive. Make every day count. Your life is precious. Fight. You can win!

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    Oh No

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