My Journey Through OZ
As you know, we all have a story to tell, each one different yet the same. You see, we all share a common thread, something that was unwanted, and yet came anyway to invade our bodies, our lives and our souls. Bonds between breast cancer survivors are unique, it is that beautiful acceptance that is not materialistic, just pure.
My name is Pamela and at the age of 37 I knew I had breast cancer without even going to the doctors. You see, I had been fighting to get approval for mammograms and sonograms since I was 35 but because I had no family history, and was so young, they rejected my multiple requests. Finally, after two years, I was diagnosed through bilateral sonogram. I KNEW IT! To the day of my bilateral mastectomies in 2008,
my mammograms were all normal. I was that small percentage with dense breasts where mammograms would not help. I was diagnosed with left breast invasive ductal carcinoma in 2 of 3 masses with DCIS in the third. My nodes were negative. My ER/PR status were 99% each and my Her2neu was initially reported as negative, however, a year later the copy I received stated positive, and thus I missed out on an incredible drug herceptin, which might have prevented my recurrence.
As everyone can tell you, they do not have time for breast cancer in their lives. I was a single mom to
two teenagers, working a full time and two part time jobs, planning my wedding and completing my Master’s Degree. This was not wanted in my overloaded schedule, yet here it was, and I had to stop as my life was now overflowing. I underwent lumpectomy in 2002 along with chemotherapy (CMF) and 8 cycles of radiation. After completion of treatment, I did have a prophylactic oopharectomy on the left side which after pathology, proved it was cancerous. I had earlier undergone a hysterectomy at age 24 for dysfunctional uterine bleeding and had an ovary removed for necrosis. I was diagnosed with a recurrence at 5 years and 3 weeks from my initial diagnosis. I opted for bilateral mastectomy and waited on reconstruction. I was not sure I needed, wanted or trusted my breasts anymore until one day at work a superior said to me, “Pamela, you look like a little girl without your breasts”! I have struggled with those words for years now because I was happy with my appearance, my choices and my survival. After that I was angry and found out that society is that unforgiving. So, I played the game and began the process of reconstruction. One year later, the expanders would be taken out and implants placed in. The funny thing is the shoot for this project was the last weekend with my new breasts. They were only in for 6 weeks. I had a latex allergy so they had to come out that following week on Monday. It was at this moment, on a Friday that I was painted for the Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project. Words cannot express the liberating, beautiful emotions that came pouring out of me since that day. I was treated as a woman, a friend, a sister and have a new sense of self. Wearing my body make-up out to lunch and back to the hotel was energizing but what got to me more was entering the pool and having the make-up and my breast cancer pain and anguish literally be washed away as I stepped out of the pool...I left my make-up and my pain behind. I am awaiting another surgery to remove these implants and once again, place the permanent implants in on May 7, 2011. Life is indeed a journey that we walk everyday. I am proud to say that this chapter closes with my beautifully painted Journey picture that you see here. I am honored to have participated in this project. You see, my happy ending was just over that rainbow, and my dreams for survival have come true.
For more information, you can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
or check out any of the links below...
DRL's original post about the fabulous BCABBP
Please read our first BCABBP Survivor's Story
Please read BCABBP Survivor, Ellen's Story
For more information please email Michael Colanero at BCABPP@uncommonstock.net
The collection of images is also currently on display at:
2713 East Commercial Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
Photos used with permission of Michael D.Colanero & UNCOMMON GALLERY.
All Rights Reserved