Claudia (48) - 2 Year Breast Cancer Survivor
I never thought it could happen to me. That's what so many women think. Especially when there is no family history of Breast Cancer. I was one of those women. Not only was there no family history of Breast Cancer, but no cancer of any kind. This is My Story.....
Jan. 2010 while setteling in for the evening, I was changing into my pajamas when I felt something odd on my left breast. I shrugged it off at that moment because I always had clear mammograms and I diligently did self exams. Once I sat down I told my husband about feeling something that didn't seem right. I lifted my arm to show him and the look on his face pretty much sent me running scared. The lump was visible from the outside and you could actually feel it's perimeter.
The next day, I called my OB/GYN and got an appointment with him that evening. He was not happy with what he saw and called the lab for an emergency mammogram and ultrasound. This is where it all began....
After a few weeks of testing and retesting I got the results on my 46th birthday. My lump was a malignant growth. I had Breast Cancer. Well Happy Birthday to me. For the next three days I sat in my bed crying, calling every doctor, crying some more, calling hospitals and cancer centers. I went through the motions....What? Me? No way? I have a four year old son. What am I gonna do? Am I gonna die? All these things just flooded my brain. My heart ached at the thought of not seeing my child grow up and leaving my family behind.
I was devastated.
I pulled myself together and was referred to a Breast Surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He took me within three days of my first batch of results. I brought him all my biopsy slides and reports from all the outside scans and tests. My cancer was rare in that it was unclear where it actually stemmed from since it was not visible in my tumor but in my lymphatic fluid. Okay, what does that mean. Well, what it meant to me was a radical double mastecomy with, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy and reconstructive surgeries. Post surgical pathology showed my cancer to be Stage III. Heavy chemo started in April and ended in November with other infusions continuing on for a whole year. In June 2010 my blood could not recoop after treatments and I had such low blood counts I needed three transfusions in one day and was admitted to MSKCC and there I spent the entire first month of Summer with infections, heart issues, extremety swelling and total deafness in my right ear. There were many ups and downs, but positive thinking and a strong support system is what got me through it all. I am truly blessed to have had such wonderful caring people in my life.
Now, fast forwarding to 2012. My hair is growing back and although I gained 50lbs (yikes) from the chemo and steroids and still require additonal reconstruction adjustments, I am alive!!!!!!. I suffer many side effects of my treatments which has effected my ability to work. At first I was devasted, but then I realized I DO have a job to do. Help spread awareness, be there for those who are just starting their fight. Help any way I can, and I do.
I learned a valuable lesson. Breast Cancer didn't stop my life, it made me take notice and LIVE my life, to it's fullest. My friend Carla came to me knowing I was having some body issues because of my weight gain. She designed two one piece suits that were not only gorgeous but so comfortable to wear. Her swimwear line features both one and two piece suits that fit and flatter. They are of excellent quality and are specfically made for women who opted for non-reconstrution and use prosthetics as well as those with fully reconstructed breasts. She asked me to do this photo shoot as part of her Real Women Campaign. It shows all sizes, shapes, ages etc. Her suits made me feel like a woman again. LOL Doing the shoot brought a bunch of women together. We laughed, we bonded, we cried, and we certainly felt like models for a day. But more importantly we shared our Strength.
Thank you Carla Murino and Carla's Closet for giving us the chance to have fun, look gorgeous and promote the Real Women line of swimwear. Love you Girl :)
LOVE YOU RIGHT BACK!~C-Girl