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Courtney's Cancer Journey

  • Author: Courtney
  • Date Submitted: Nov 2, 2021
  • Category: Survivor Stories

“ I have cancer, but I do not let cancer have me.”

I was diagnosed in January of 2018 with breast cancer. I went and got my annual mammograms at the Imaging Center on Napoleon and that was when they found the cancer. It was in a spot that I could not feel.

At the time I was diagnosed they thought the cancer was small, so I went to see Dr. Colfry and he explained all my treatment options. I decided to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction. The pathology came back, and the cancer ended up not being that small – it was big, over 5 millimeters. My cancer was diagnosed as stage 3, just because of the size. I was lucky because it did not spread into my lymph nodes. Given the size of the cancer, my doctors said that the tumor was probably there at previous mammograms, it just didn’t show up until my last one. I then did the MammaPrint test, which showed that there was a low risk of the cancer coming back. I did not have to have chemo, but I did have to do the radiation.

I’m now in the cancer rehab program and I have to be honest; I was reluctant to come to cancer rehab. At this point, I felt like I just wanted to be done with my cancer stuff and didn’t want to come. I had been to all my checkups with my doctors and I have this pain that is bothering me in my shoulder. All of my doctors said “You should really go to rehab. They’re specialists - they’re there for a reason. They see this all the time and you won’t have to go forever. It’s going to be okay.” There’s a lot of sweet people here in the cancer rehab center.

I love Touro. We have a lot of connections with this system. Dr. Colfry is amazing and really fantastic. He puts you at ease and explains everything so well. Dr. Zakris spent so much time with me and when it was time for me to have the radiation, she did a bunch of research and gave me a bunch of different answers to the questions I had. I feel like the doctors that I had here at Touro went above and beyond to make me feel informed, comfortable, and really put me at ease. I feel fortunate I was able to receive my treatment here. It’s a peaceful place and you get to know everybody here. In hindsight, being in a peaceful environment like Touro while going through treatment is good for your psyche.

I’m more than a survivor, I’m a mother, wife, I’m a hard worker. I am a good friend. I’m a sister. I feel very fortunate. I am a lucky person – I have a full life and I am really healthy now. I have a lot of things I enjoy doing and a lot of people around me to support me. When I found out I had cancer, I remember thinking “you can have these things wrong with you and not know it, and still be living this good and great life.” I had a running group I was apart of and when I was diagnosed, I would run and say to myself, “I have cancer, but I do not let cancer have me.” I think having a positive attitude is really important.

One of the best things about this journey is that being diagnosed with cancer is something bad that happened to you, but it’s the nicest thing in some ways because all of a sudden you see how many people love you. I felt the love the whole time. It’s a special kind of love you feel. I have also made a pact to myself; it makes you stop and pause and evaluate what is important to you. It forces you to slow down a little bit and to do the things you enjoy most. It makes you stop and realize that you won’t be around forever, and you need to enjoy the ride. It’s okay to sometimes just pause and enjoy your life and family and I think I had to get cancer to teach myself that lesson.