fighting breast cancer for The Sullivan's
Organized by: Corey Brink
My cancer story begins about 3 months ago when I found a lump in my left breast. My mother was 39 when she too was diagnosed with breast cancer and was a young age of 41 when she lost her battle to this nasty disease in 1995. Although I've never really been consistent, I've always been "aware" of my breast for a lack of a better word. So you can imagine the fear that hit me on that dreadful day. I kept a check on it over the next two months to see if I noticed any change hoping it was just menstrual related. On January 2nd, the day before my 22 year old daughter was to be married to the love of her life, I noticed more knots above the lump I had already found. You can only imagine pure terror hit me like a ton of bricks. That night I laid in the bed and cried, on my dear sweet husbands shoulder, as I shared with him my fears and anxieties. Of course, as any strong and supportive husband, he encouraged me not to panic before we knew anything. The next day, the day of the wedding, I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I shared with my aunt and sister what was going on and asked them to pray with me right then for peace. I needed to be strong and to be the mother of the bride for my precious daughter - it was her day! Of course, I didn't share any of this with her yet. When I returned to work on Monday, I shared the concerns with my coworkers. As expected, they INSISTED that I call immediately to make an appointment for a mammogram - so I did. I didn't share with my doctor my findings when I called. I simply ask if he would order me a mammogram because of my age and my mother's history. The breakdown goes like this - completely unexpected! On Monday, January 12, 2015, I had a mammogram scheduled for 1:30. Several of my friends and family offered to go with me but honestly, I didn't see the need as I THOUGHT I was only going for a mammogram and would have to wait for results to come in later anyway. Once I got to the breast center for my appointment and explained my findings, they called my doctor and had the order changed to a diagnostic mammogram. This type scan insures the results while I waited to see if there were more test required. Unfortunately, they saw the lump and it looked suspicious and required more test. I immediately had an ultrasound followed by a biopsy! Can you say NOT EXPECTING THAT?! Totally not what I expected my visit to be like that day. So needless to say, I was a bundle of nerves. My husband was in Atlanta on business so my family and friends were there for support but I resisted as I NEVER dreamed I'd be where I am right now. I didn't want to inconvenience them in any way over NOTHING. I was told I would have the results of the biopsy on Wednesday. As you can imagine, the next few days were nail biters. I DID NOT get the results until Thursday and was asked to meet with the doctor in person. I knew what that meant, and I'm here to tell you there is no way to prepare yourself for life changing news, no matter how hard you try. I met with the doctor and a surgeon that day to discuss options. I had already made my mind up, due to my mom's history, that I was going to have a double mastectomy. We decided to go to MD Anderson in Houston, Texas for a second opinion and to also see what their treatment plan would be. Over the last two weeks they have tested me from head to toe. We have ruled out cancer anywhere else in my body. Praise the Lord! The plan forward is to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction at the same time of the mastectomy followed by 12 months of chemo. My surgery is scheduled for Monday, February 23, 2015 (my 42nd birthday no doubt) in Houston, Tx. Even with insurance, our estimated out of pocket expense, just over the next 15 months is $27,000 to $30,000 not to mention the follow ups over the next five years. If I had to guess, that is on the low end as we are not 100% sure what to expect and exactly how much of the chemo and other meds insurance will cover. Cancer is definitely life changing. On top of all this, my husband and I recently bought an old home place with plans to renovate for our family. The money we had set aside for those renovations has now been spoken for with the cost of travel so far and travel and treatment ahead. The kicker to all this is our lease is up February 1, 2015 so we were supposed to be out of our current house by January 31, 2015. Of course there was no way with all that we've been dealing with. Our landlord, who ALSO was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer the same day as me, was so gracious to allow us to stay in our/her home for another month. Then there's this little thing called life, that even though our world seems to come to a complete halt, life around us continues on with all the responsibilities that come along with it! With all that being said, we desperately need to be out of our home by the end of February as we cannot afford both places. First and foremost, my family and I are asking for your prayers. Next, if you can spare anything, anything at all, it would be greatly appreciated in helping us insure we can provide a place for our family to live and get the treatment so necessary to fight this ugly disease called cancer! As humbling and sometimes embarrassing it is to accept money for our need, we are not naive enough to think we can do this on our own without the help and support of our family, friends and complete strangers. God has a way of taking care of His children. He has already answered MANY MANY prayers regarding our situation and we are trusting in Him. We thank you in advance for your PRAYERS and your SUPPORT! May God bless you, The Sullivan's.