As you listen to the news, read the paper, check Facebook or talk to others, you’re frequently made aware of someone that’s been diagnosed with cancer. You think about them often, pray for them and their family, but then go on with your day-to-day life. Until that one day, when you’re the one receiving the devastating phone call. Where they ask you to come back in – because something doesn’t look right.
Over the years, due to very dense breast tissue, I’ve had many calls asking me to return for further testing following a mammogram. I’ve even had a couple biopsies and other procedures. Fortunately, each time the extra tests were performed, I received a phone call with good news that everything was benign – until September of 2015. That’s the year I received a phone call, informing me I had breast cancer.
For the first few minutes, I was stunned and speechless. Then the tears came. My emotions got the best of me. Until you’re the one getting that phone call, you never truly know what it’s like. My father passed away due to cancer. I spent nearly two years going to appointments and treatments, waiting through every surgery. Even though the experience with my dad was unpleasant in the end, I knew I had been given the knowledge and strength to deal with my own cancer battle.
As a caregiver, my first thoughts were about my husband and children. I knew this situation would be tremendously stressful for them. At the time, I felt helpless, but knew my family and friends would be my rock.
The day I was diagnosed with cancer, I was sent to a local surgeon in North Platte, Nebraska. He was incredible, but knew I needed to see the very best.
I was referred to Nebraska Medicine surgical oncologist Edibaldo Silva-Lopez, MD, PhD. During the first visit with Dr. Silva in Omaha, I barely let him speak before peppering him with questions about my future. Did I need to get my things in order? If so, how long did I have? He looked me straight in the face and said, “that is not even a concern for you.” He was certain I would survive. My heart danced!
Dr. Silva’s recommended treatment plan for me was newly approved, but research showed the results were very positive. Within the next couple weeks, we began treatment at the cancer center in North Platte. Everything started to happen just like Dr. Silva said it would. He anticipated my cancer journey would be about a year long, barring any complications.
But, after two rounds of chemotherapy, we were in for quite a surprise. During an ultrasound of my breast, the tumor was nowhere to be found. My radiologist was completely shocked. What a happy day!
I completed two more rounds of chemo, followed by a regimen of drugs. In January, Dr. Silva performed surgery, removing a margin of tissue where the tumor once was, along with 17 lymph nodes. About a week later, I received a phone call from Dr. Silva’s nurse, Carol, telling me all the tests performed on the removed tissue and lymph nodes were negative for the cancer! The treatment plan Dr. Silva gave me worked.
When this journey began, my husband and I both prayed for a miracle. That miracle was not for the cancer to just go away, but for me to be directed to the right physicians with the knowledge to cure my disease. In my opinion, my prayers were answered and my miracle was granted. Without cancer research and the dedication of physicians who put it to use, who knows where my journey would have led. But, because we are fortunate enough to have these services in Nebraska, I am able to look forward to a bright future.
I now pray for a financial miracle so that breast cancer research can continue to evolve at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center for many, many years to come. I am living proof that this research does make a difference.