Vail Valley Charitable Fund: No way I have breast cancer …
Special to the Daily
… I thought as I walked home from the gym. I feel too good.
It was a glorious day and everything was right in my world. You know, one of those days when you feel good, look good, and have a spring in your step that communicates just how good you feel.
I had had a biopsy on a suspicious lump in my left breast on my yearly mammogram. I was calm. The technician was not. I came to the conclusion that it was scar tissue from the “suspicious” lump that had been removed six months before. The technician was not as certain. So I made an appointment with a breast surgeon to have the thing removed.
Now I was anticipating a call from the doctor with results from the lumpectomy. And I was sure it wasn’t cancer. People with cancer don’t feel this good.
The telephone began to ring just as I opened my front door.
“Hello,” I answered breathlessly, as I ran to grab the phone before the machine picked up.
“Hello,” this is Dr. Bennion. Is Brenda there?” said the voice on the other end.
“Hi, Dr. Bennion. It’s me. So it isn’t cancer, is it?” I blurted out.
“I’m sorry to say it is,” He said cautiously. “But it’s small and we’ve caught it early.”
“Oh, s—,” I replied. Then, not wanted to sound discourteous, I added, “Sorry.”
The rest of the conversation is a blank. I think he told me the lump was 7 millimeters. I think we discussed chemotherapy. And then there was something about checking lymph nodes.
Whatever! It really didn’t matter what he said. All I heard was “cancer.”
After that phone call, I functioned in a robotic zone for some time. I went to Dr. Bennion’s office with my husband to discuss the procedure. I had waves of anxiety and couldn’t think straight. I just wanted to go to sleep and to wake up to find everything back to normal. And, a few months later, it was.
I would say, having been diagnosed with breast cancer, my reaction is probably the norm. Especially in this valley where most women participate in a myriad of physical activities and are mindful of everything healthy from food, to workouts, to a meditative walk up a mountain. Yet, it does happen here, and we’re fortunate to have the Shaw Cancer Center nearby.
It’s been 26 years since my diagnosis and all is well. And the only time I think about breast cancer is the day of my yearly mammogram. That’s only natural.
And even as I get O-L-D-E-R (a word I refuse to acknowledge), I will continue to get screened as studies show that even though the prevalence of density decreases with age, most women 40 to 64 have dense breasts, and even 30 to 32 percent of those over 70 still have dense breasts. And that’s reason enough.
So, listen to your body. Trust your intuition. If something doesn’t seem right, feel right, go with your heart. Ask questions.
And, know that you’ll be OK.
Brenda Himelfarb and Patti Weinstein cofounded the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group 27 years ago. The group is now under the umbrella of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund. If you need help, go to VVCF.org or 970-524-1480.