Post written by guest blogger. friend and Breast Cancer Survivor, Mary Ellen Smith-Bedrossian
|With my husband and son|
Not in a million years would I have dreamed that I would be diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 54. Three years ago the nightmare came true.
I am a strong supporter of breast cancer awareness. So when an opportunity presented itself to get a FREE mammography offered to the community from my local Senator Frank Padavan who had partnered with the American Italian Cancer Society, I said "SURE!!!".
Free Mammogram available to women whose knowledge and awareness of breast cancer is often limited. I also felt this was a way to show my support and give back.
|Before my surgery|
My mammogram came back suspicious. There was nothing to compare it to, since it had been quite awhile since my last one. I got a referral to have a consultation with a breast surgeon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NY.
Additional testing done showed cancerous calcification, in medical lingo its known as Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). It was stage 1, but after a tissue sample, it showed that it was a very aggressive cancer.
Bottom line, the cancer was detected early. I had been told by many doctors how lucky I was, and my attitude turned positive. Believe me there was much denial in the beginning.
|My hair growing back|
The protocol decided between the surgeon and my oncologist was 6 treatments of chemo, over a 4 month period. My body could only handle 4 treatments. It took its toll on me physically.
I had 35 radiation treatments, five days a week for 7 consecutive weeks. The radiologists were amazed at how well I handled them all. I was SUPERWOMAN.
Mentally, I tried not to let the chemo get to me. I had family and friends and so many angels helping me keep a strong positive attitude. They kept my mind occupied , while my body was on another planet. Everyone kept telling me I was an inspiration, when it was the other way around.
The loss of my hair, brows, and lashes and getting a wig, had to have been the most traumatic. I felt like I lost part of myself. When the wig was on, it was as if I was whole again. Nobody had any idea that I had breast cancer. I know it is all psychological, but that is the way I felt.
I had numerous side effects, mood swings, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, hot flashes, swelling, fatigue, weight loss, jaw pain, bone pain, neuropathy, leg cramping and acid reflux.
|At a cancer celebration|
I see my oncologist every six months, which entails a physical, blood work and a renewal of my prescription for my daily cancer preventative drug ARIMIDEX. The drug has its side effects, but I deal with them. I have to take it for 5 years. I have three years more to go, that's not going to change, so I accept it and handle it.
I had a brief scare. After two biopsies and an MRI, I am happy to say that it turned out to be scar tissue from my surgery and the radiation I had 3 years ago.
WHO KNEW! I was prepared for whatever God was going to throw my way, but thank God I'm CANCER FREE for one more year. I have now graduated from six months to one year, for my visit to MSK (EVELYN H. LAUDER BREAST CENTER)
My life is back on track. I exercise. I eat healthy. I do indulge occasionally. My hair is different, just a minor detail in the whole scheme of things.
My View, Hope and Dream
|With my wig|
You never know what God has in store for us, words that I am just understanding. I believe that my knowledge and actual experience is a great way to communicate and support women who unfortunately are dealing with this dreaded disease.
I want women to know how important it is to do monthly self exams and to have a yearly mammogram, make the appointment around your birthday and you won't forget. I also want them to know that I have been there, done it, and survived.
I have come along way. I don't second guess myself. I am a true believer in second chances. I do not sweat the small stuff, it isn't worth my precious time on earth. I carry a positive attitude.
What I would like to do is to make a positive impact on Breast Cancer Awareness, and my big dream is to rid the world of this disease. But for right now, I'll settle on just helping one person, one day at a time, to go through their chemo and radiation.
Everyone should appreciate God's gifts and thank him every chance you get. JUST SMILE, THINK PINK, support breast cancer awareness anyway you can. Remember -- LIFE IS GOOD. EMBRACE IT. ENJOY IT. LOVE YOURSELF.
Mary Ellen Smith-Bedrossian was born in Peekskill, NY. The youngest of five. She is married and has a son who attends college in Pennsylvania.
She LOVES the color PINK. Loves to read James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks and Luanne Rice, but has fallen victim to the SHADES of GREY trilogy.
She is addicted to THE VOICE, Big Bang Theory, Once upon a Time, Revenge, and Homeland, when she is not working in the nursery school program or playing secretary after school.
Editors' Note: We want to thank Mary Ellen for opening up her life and sharing her inspirational story. We wish her all the best and many years of health and happiness.