In late March, 2005, I found a lump in my breast. I was already seeing Dr. Mansberger at the Archbold Integrative Medicine Center for acupuncture and some physical therapy, and I felt very comfortable asking for his direction at that point. He called and arranged for me to be seen quickly at The Women’s Center. On Friday, April 1, I had a breast exam and was scheduled to see the pathologist for a needle biopsy on Monday, April 4, 2005.
I had breastfed our three children and had a healthy lifestyle, so I never really worried about it occurring in my life. However, when I saw the pathologist on Monday and he came back into the room after doing the needle biopsy, he told me that I did have a very aggressive tumor. Before I left the pathologist’s office, he called Dr. Mansberger and they scheduled an appointment for me to meet with the surgeon Tuesday morning, April 5.
When I saw Dr. Waller the next morning, he asked where my family was. I told him I wanted to meet with him first. I knew my husband and children would be very supportive and caring through whatever lay ahead, but I wanted to have that initial meeting by myself. Dr. Waller was excellent. He talked with me and I understood he was allowing me to get a second opinion, but that I needed to do so quickly. I liked his honesty, knew he was an outstanding surgeon and asked what he had available on his schedule.
Three days later, I was in surgery for my mastectomy. I was able to return home the next day so I could see our youngest son go to prom.
I remember the first time I walked into the waiting area of the Oncology Center and saw how many people were sitting in there with some type of cancer. That is a moment that definitely sticks in my mind.
Dr. Brian Gaupp was my Medical Oncologist and Dr. Steve Johnson was my Radiation Oncologist through my journey at the Center. Both doctors took excellent care of me. They explained procedures to me, listened to my feelings, answered my questions and to this day they continue to be thorough and professional when I have my follow-up appointments with them.
Before beginning chemotherapy, I ordered some wigs, because I had always liked having long hair and wanted to continue to look as much like myself as possible. I wanted to stay as active and productive as I could throughout the day. I made a concerted effort each and every day to get up, pray for strength and health, shower, get dressed, put on my makeup and look the best possible for my family and for whatever that day held.
During the chemotherapy time, I continued going to the Integrative Medicine Center and received acupuncture before treatments to help lessen the nausea. The supplements recommended by Dr. Mansberger assisted in strengthening my body to rebuild healthy cells, tissue and blood. I found the yoga classes very helpful too.
I distinctly remember losing my eyebrows and eyelashes during the chemotherapy treatments. That was when I really felt naked, but I continued to face each day with hope and the best appearance I could put forth.
I also underwent radiation treatments for a little under eight weeks. The radiation team was wonderful and made it as cheerful for everyone as possible. I would hear a lot of people in the waiting room mention that they were from places that took over an hour’s drive to get back home. That was definitely one thing which made me so very thankful to have an outstanding oncology center right here in my town, that was close for me to drive to in just a few minutes.
I have been very blessed to be in Thomasville and to receive the expert care that was and is offered by all the physicians connected to my welfare and to have the cutting edge treatment offered by The Oncology Center.
If I could encourage anyone else going through their journey, I think I would say that no one should ever underestimate the importance of their smile or encouraging word spoken to a nurse or another patient or family member. I am thankful that almost six years since my surgery, I am healthy, grateful for the gift of life and for the opportunities God gives me each day to share a smile or an encouraging word with those who cross my path.