Hello! I am so glad you have joined us for another Miracle Monday! Please welcome Vicki as she tells her story of going through and surviving cancer, as well as a marital crisis, all at the same time.
I am glad you are here for Part I of Vicki’s story. Please join me back for Part II on the following Monday, May 11, 2014 to read the rest of Vicki’s Journey!
Here is Vicki’s story:
“In August 2011, I found myself married to, and separated from, the love of my life. For a couple of reasons I made the decision to move out and go back to Tallahassee. I lived there several years before and my daughter was born there. She had just started attending Florida State University. I still had a good circle of friends and professional contacts, so it was an easy transition. My husband and I would go back and forth between Jacksonville and Tallahassee to see each other and “work on things”. On one such occasion, in February 2012, he and the association he belonged to made their legislative trip to Tallahassee. I had dinner with him and a few of his constituents, including the woman who ran the association. She sat with us, and at one point she inquired how I liked Tallahassee, how my daughter was doing at FSU …small talk. She casually asked me if I had plans to move back to Jacksonville. I honestly did not know what the future held for my husband and me. We seemed to be on completely different planes on so many levels, but I knew I loved him. I truly felt that we would weather the issues and come out on the other side – it might take some time, but I so wanted to come out on the other side still together. A few months later I went for my annual mammogram. No biggie. Then we jetted off to Las Vegas for a romantic getaway, just the two of us. While in Las Vegas, I got a call from my physician saying something showed up on my mammogram, and I needed to go back in for a diagnostic. I said, “OK. I have dense breast tissue. Did you look at all my previous scans? This always happens.” She said, “Yes, but this is different”. My heart sank a little. It had already sunk a little since…well, you’ve heard the cliché “He’s just not that into you…”… my husband’s mind, heart or soul was not with me in Vegas.
Upon my return to Tallahassee, I went in for the diagnostic mammogram. It gave new meaning to the phrase “you’re in one room and your boob’s in another”… I was still pretty confident that we were just dealing with dense tissue. And then she showed me what we were looking at…it had tentacles and was the size of a dime. Cancer is not new to my family. My father died of leukemia, his sister of ovarian cancer. I have cousins who have battled breast cancer, rectal and bladder cancers … so for me, it was never whether or not cancer would come for me, but a matter of when. At this moment, all I could think was, “So, this is how it’s going to go…” Even with all the knowledge and information I had, nothing really prepares you for that moment. The next step was the stereotactic biopsy. Now, if you know me, you know how chaos and mayhem follow me around. While I’m upside down on the little table half naked being assaulted by a 10 inch needle…the machine breaks down….mid-procedure. You know how you can tell when they are trying to remain calm as if nothing is wrong but they are scrambling around behind, or in this case above, you, so you can’t see so as not to alarm you??? I was alarmed. Greatly alarmed. Long story short – they had to retrieve that needle and start all over again…manually. I think I must have fainted because I remember coming to, being asked to drink the Coke she was handing me…I was sweating profusely. I asked what happened. She said, “Oh, nothing, you just fainted, but we were very successful in getting the tissue we needed. You’ll have your results in just a few days.” My husband had come over for this procedure, but seriously, I’m not sure why. We went home, and I laid down with a tiny ice pack resting on my sore breast.
I waited on pins and needles for the precise and final diagnosis. A few days later I got it. The radiologist called me and said “LCIS…lobular carcinoma in situ. You need to get it out with a lumpectomy. You’ll be ok.” I felt … relief … I guess? The only word I understood was carcinoma. I told my daughter and my husband. We went to dinner and on the way home, my husband’s best friend called him and asked what was going on with me. The reply was, “Oh, she’s fine.” Oh, she’s fine. So I would be fine. My daughter seethed in the back seat. She was my rock. She would go to every appointment and procedure, attend school, and take care of me. She took notes at the appointments while I sat with that “deer in the headlights” expression on my face. She did all the research before I could make sense of what I was about to go through. All I could think was that I was now the 1 in 4 women who get breast cancer. I was the “1” in the 4. A statistic.
Lobular Carcinoma In Situ – not your garden variety breast disease. Some oncologists don’t even consider it cancer. They were quick to say “let’s do a lumpectomy and then watch it.” I’ve never been one to watch and wait. I’m more of a “take action” kind of girl. I studied. I talked to people. I talked to professionals. I went online and found other women who had gone through LCIS. Many of the women I spoke with had taken the “lumpectomy wait and see” approach and were diagnosed 2 – 3 years later with full-blown invasive breast cancer. Not a path I wanted to take. Here’s the thing about LCIS. It does NOT form lumps and does NOT show up on mammograms. But, wait, you say…your mammogram….oh yes, what they were looking at…that thing with tentacles…that wasn’t the carcinoma. THAT was something called a radial scar…it is benign, however it is an indicator of increased risk of cancer in both breasts, not just the breast it occurred in. BUT, THERE WAS ALSO LCIS…the carcinoma was hiding down between and behind those little finger-like tentacles. Do you believe in Divine Intervention? I do. God had my back. Had that benign radial scar not been there…I shudder to think where I’d be right now! So that’s my argument for getting those mammograms, no matter what! When I went to my surgical consult for the lumpectomy, I asked him one question. “If this does not form lumps, does not show up on mammograms and therefore, cannot be monitored, and once detected, there is a 33% chance it is already in the other breast. Can you guarantee me that I don’t already have it in my other breast?” He said, “No, I can’t.” I said, “well, I have one child, a daughter. She is only 19 and a student at FSU. A lumpectomy just seems kinda’ silly doesn’t it?”
I underwent my no-brainer, bi-lateral mastectomy on September 25, 2012. Because I was still married, I chose to also undergo reconstruction. My husband had come over for the surgery and to “be there for me” – for a week. We’re talking about a man who was entitled to a 3 month sabbatical, but I got one week. The surgery was the most excruciating pain I had ever experienced. My OBGYN was holding my hand when I came to in recovery, saying over and over, “I got you. I got you”…I asked if they were gone, and she gently put my hands to my chest where my C-cups used to be…yes, they were gone. Morphine is a wonderful drug, and all I could think was “Happy Trails”…
I can tell you Vicki’s story is difficult, tough, and trying. Please join us next Monday, May 11th for the rest of her story.