Two Initials After A Name Makes No Difference To Cancer

December 2009….like everyone else I was busy preparing for the holidays. I had an appointment for a routine gyn check up in the middle of the month. As it got closer to the date I thought about changing it until after the new year as I had so many errands to accomplish before the 25th!!!

Reluctantly I kept the appt and several days later I got the dreaded “ please come back for some additional imaging/ultrasound.” My doctor told me that he did not like what he saw and immediately made an appointment with a surgeon. So the week before Christmas I found out I probably had breast cancer and the day after Christmas I had an open biopsy which confirmed the diagnosis. Two days later I had a unilateral mastectomy.

As we all know, BOOM!!….doctor appointments, decisions to be made, treatment options,etc. Did I forget to mention I am an RN???

Everyone assumed I knew what they were talking about just because of those initials after my name. I had not worked in a long , long time. While I was in the hospital a young nurse came to talk with me about breast cancer and she was so upbeat and answered a lot of my questions I began to calm down.

My treatment included chemotherapy and radiation. I did very well but it still was a long and arduous journey. Anytime I heard that someone I knew had been diagnosed I reached out to say YOU CAN DO THIS!!! I felt it really was a message I needed to tell.

Three years later it was brought to my attention that there was an opening for a nurse in the Breast Center at our local hospital. I thought about it and decided I would apply and go from there. Wow…I had been out of nursing a long time and taking that pharmacology test was hard!!! I got the job and went to work.

I had a lot to learn about breast cancer but I knew personally things that a book could not teach. I also became a certified breast patient navigator. This is not a job…it is a calling and God’s hand was in it from the beginning of my personal journey with this disease.

I feel that my patients know that I truly understand their feelings. They trust me and I am thankful that I can direct them in their course of treatment. Working in the imaging department I see them come in for a routine mammogram that becomes a call back and then a biopsy. Many times it then leads to the diagnosis of breast cancer. But, I can offer them HOPE………there are great options in the treatment of breast cancer…I am living proof.

So this is my 2nd Act. I pray that my words or actions have helped my patients when their world has been turned upside down. I am a lucky girl!!!