WINNING THE BATTLE AGAINST BRCA1
by Marilyn Robinson
Who said, "I am glad I had cancer, it made me a better person"? Well, that is true; however, how much better and wiser can I be? I have just been diagnosed with breast cancer for a third time! The front-line battle to escape the enemy tells the story:
In 1993 at the age of 47, I had a routine mammogram, and I was diagnosed with an estrogen-negative ductal cell carcinoma. I had many heart-wrenching issues to face. I was confronted with my own mortality. I underwent ten months of FAC chemotherapy after a mastectomy and tram flap reconstruction. You would think that would be enough for one person to endure...however, there is more to my story.
I was diagnosed 1 year after my husband was diagnosed with renal cell cancer. We were both in treatment at the same time! Unfortunately, my husband was not a survivor, and passed away one month after my last chemotherapy treatment. Although I suffered both emotional and physical pain during that time, the wonderful memories of having a loving partner in battle gave me great strength. We were both angry, but our mutual anger turned to peace. We spent more and more time at the beach looking at sunrises and sunsets, listening to the waves crashing on the shore, hearing the sound of seagulls, focusing on the preciousness of life's moments.
I survived 8 years cancer-free, enjoying my creative talents, helping cancer patients look fashionable and feel better about themselves. Then, you guessed it...I went in for a routine mammogram and was diagnosed with insitu ductal cell carcinoma to the healthy breast. The same fears surfaced as when I was first diagnosed ...a cancer-free existence with a bright future now overshadowed by a dark cloud from the past. My decision was to have a lumpectomy with six weeks of radiation...I thought that would end my battles. I was widowed and scarred but remained hopeful that one day there would be a cure.