Guest blogger, Carol Dunlop is certified through FiTour as a Personal Trainer and through the American Red Cross as a CPR, AED and First Aid Instructor. She has competed and placed in several Fitness America and National Bodybuilding competitions. To receive your Free E-course “How to Burn Calories While you Sleep,” check out her website, OptimumBodySculpting.com.
It’s been over a month since I heard the word “cancerous” in connection with myself. It feels better to know that all the cancer that the doctors could see is now gone. They told me the operation was the first part and depending on the size of the tumor, chemotherapy would be the second part, if it was needed. Immediately, I put all the “ifs” out of my mind and stopped worrying about getting or not getting chemo and my reaction to it, until I needed to deal with it, as a factor.
Compartmentalizing the whole process, at each step, has helped me get through this. I’ve learned that women can do that! Ha! I did it and it has worked well for me.
I found that if I attempted to take on the whole “cancer thing,” I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t think. And even if I broke it down to breast cancer, it was still huge. So what I did was take it even further, down to the beginning: “I’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer” and went from there. Yes, it was still a lot, but at least I was only dealing with the beginning. I learned that I needed to form a team of doctors:
- Breast Surgeon: to operate and remove the tumor
- Plastic Surgeon: to put me back together and make me look as good or better than new, depending on which procedure I chose
- Medical Oncologist: to create and oversee any chemotherapy treatments
- Radiation Oncologist: to create and oversee any radiation treatments
Luckily my gynecologist, Dr. Melissa C. Parker, recommended a wonderful breast surgeon, Dr. Carrie Stallings – who by the way shares the same name as my daughter’s nickname and a super duper plastic surgery team at Atlanta Plastic Surgery Specialists consisting of Dr. Diane Alexander, Dr. Bernadette Wang-Ashraf and Dr. Yeon-Jeen Jenny Chang. They have all worked together and produced awesome results for their patients. So good, in fact, they created a book or portfolio of their accomplishments. I had reviewed the book, which helped me to decide which procedure I wanted, even without knowing that I would eventually use them.
I found my oncologist, Dr. Karthi Subannan, quite by accident. I had been going to see her because my hemoglobin levels were too low to even walk around with because I also suffer from fibroids. I had already had a blood transfusion and an iron infusion before the diagnosis of breast cancer. So when I told her about my diagnosis, she let me know that not only was she a hematologist, but she was also a medical oncologist who specialized in breast cancer AND worked closely with Dr. Stallings’ office. Okay, I was set! Everything just fell into place, I believe, through divine intervention.
I had my surgery on August 11, a bi-lateral mastectomy, and learned that I would definitely need chemo because my cancer had spread to one lymph node.
So here I am now, researching my chemo meds, side effects and anything else that goes along with it. One of the things that I am most grateful for is the opportunity to share my journey with the Diets In Review audience. You have been so supportive of my guest blog posts so I feel that we know each other already, on some level. I also feel that since this breast cancer thing hit me out of the blue, as if by some weird lottery drawing, there are probably other women and even men, going through this for the first time also.
For myself, I know that having information helps, so I will share my journey with you in hopes that it helps you, in some way, to connect with others going through this same journey.
Thank you for listening,
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September 9th, 2011