“Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
In April 2003, I was a typical 17-year-old guy. A senior in high school, on the football team, working at the pool and ice rink, everything was cool. There was something a little unusual though. One day I scratched my chest and felt a lump behind my right nipple. We had no medical insurance at the time, so at a school physical night, I asked two doctors to check out the lump. Neither doctor was concerned. All they said was “let’s keep an eye on this…it’s a calcium build up…you’re becoming a man…it would go away.” Well, that never happened.
Seven years later, after graduating from college, I got a job working at the same pool and ice rink where I worked while in high school. When I was promoted to manager and qualified for health insurance, I made an appointment for a check up. During the exam, the doctor never checked my breasts, so I asked him specifically to look at the lump. He immediately suggested I go for a sonogram, but he didn’t think there was anything to be concerned about. The doctor who read the sonogram suggested I also have a mammogram. On April 27th, 2010 my lump was removed.
None of the doctors seemed concerned, so I still didn’t think anything could be wrong. I thought since lump was gone, I was all good.
The very next day, I was in the parking lot of the country club about to head home to my second job when my cell rang. It was the doctor and he told me I had breast cancer. He just blurted out the words and said he’d call back in a few days after looking more closely at the pathology report. Gee, thanks doc, leave me hanging there for a few days. I thought I was getting punk’d and Ashton Kutcher was going to come out from in between the cars with cameras or something. No one called me right back, so I realized this was no joke.
The first thing I did was call my dad to give him the shocking news, but asked him not to tell mom yet. I was going to work, couldn’t talk much and said we’ll discuss everything more when I get home. That didn’t last long. Less than five minutes later mamma bear calls and asks about 1,000 questions in 30 seconds.
Like most people my age, I posted my breast cancer news on Facebook. I wrote about my diagnosis, upcoming surgery and chemo plans. It was the easiest way to let my friends know without having to tell them face-to-face.
On May 18th, 2010 I had a mastectomy to ensure the likelihood that my new friend would not return. This was a terrifying experience, but having my loved ones supporting me in the waiting room was the only way to get through it.
Along with breast tissue, my nipple and four lymph nodes around the nipple were removed. Because of my scar, everyone says it looks like I am winking at them ( – )( ).
After a quick and successful surgery, I was given very good news. With the margins taken out all the cancer was gone! The cancer was caught very early and was classified as Stage 1.
Following the mastectomy I went through four rounds of chemotherapy and am free & clear of cancer for good, I hope!!