You’ll Never Walk Alone

I started this blog in June last year after my mastectomy, following the discovery of a cancerous mass in my right breast.

Through it I have “met” so many women who have had to take the same painful journey as I. At one point I was getting three or four emails every week — women who were single and in shock that they had been diagnosed with breast cancer; women who, in the midst of a terrible divorce, received a second blow of a breast cancer diagnosis; women who are married with kids, and don’t know how to cope with running their household like they always have; children of women who are going through breast cancer treatment, whose love for their mothers drives them to find answers to the pain.

Every single one of you has touched me and amazed me. Your strength and positivity (even in the midst of great emotional stress) bear testament that women are built with an awesome inner strength.

I want to thank every person who has shared her story with me, and the ones who have left thoughtful comments. I have been as blessed by you all, as I hope this blog has somehow blessed you.

I want every woman reading this to know that you do not need to walk alone through your cancer. You can write to me and I’ll be happy to talk to you. Some of my friends, like Rosalind Ng, have been so open and willing to share their tips on coping with chemo and other treatments — I am continually awed by her, and grateful to have this “partner”.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me if I would speak to a friend of his. She is in her mid-30s and discovered a cancerous lump in her breast at a routine health check. Being single she was terrified not just at the prospect of a mastectomy (which her first doctor suggested), but also at the uncertainty of the future. What would she tell that potential new boyfriend? Could she have children? Would she dare?

I called her. We talked. Her doctor had really scared her — she told her the bare minimum, and simply said “You better have your operation done soon.”

I suggested she get a second opinion, just like I did. Her second doctor suggested a wide excision (partial mastectomy), but the nurse that did her paperwork started psycho’ing her into considering a mastectomy (WHY would anyone do that??! I mean, isn’t there enough evidence to show that a lumpectomy followed by chemo and radiation can preserve the breast and inflict minimal damage to the patient’s psyche?).

But on the day she was warded, the doctor did another ultrasound and found a “suspicious” lump in another part of the breast near the nipple. So she was discharged, having been told to decide if she wanted to do another biopsy to rule out a second cancerous growth.

She was pretty freaked out by this time. So when she called me, I suggested she get a third opinion from my surgeon Dr Hoe Ah Leong, who was the one who managed to calm me down so I could accept even having a mastectomy.

Dr Hoe checked the second lump using ultrasound, and thanks to his many years as a breast surgeon, could tell her pretty much for certain that it did not look “suspicious” at all. Also, he suggested an alternative treatment for her — chemo first, to shrink the lump, then a lumpectomy. There was even a chance the chemo would get rid of the cancer altogether. She went to see the oncologist (same one I did, Dr Tan Yew Oo) and Dr Tan started her on chemo.

When we last spoke she sounded good, relieved and thankful that Dr Hoe had a good alternative for her. I admire her courage and her quick acceptance of what chemo meant. I have to admit I have at moments wished I could have preserved my breast… but my mastectomy was a journey I had to walk through.

I’m grateful to God that somehow, through this blog, He has enabled me to help other women going through the same pain and the multitude of fears and unanswered questions. My prayer to Him had been “Don’t waste my cancer. Make something good out of it.”

I’m glad He heard me.

If you have questions about breast cancer, or know someone who’s going through this who needs to talk, email me at theresa@word.sg. I’d be glad to help in any way I can.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: