I had a sinking feeling when the radiologist called me back for a diagnostic mammogram, the 2nd one I had since turning 40. There it was, a seemingly harmless feather-like shadow on my left breast. The following week, a biopsy confirmed that it was DCIS, one of the "better" kinds of cancer to have, if you can imagine such a thing. (Who knew there were so many types of breast cancer anyway?) It is non-aggressive, and by nature it is contained fully in the duct. The lumpectomy went smoothly with only a limited amount of discomfort.
I never lost sight of how fortunate I was to not require chemotherapy, or have lymph nodes removed. But seven weeks of radiation, even if it is "preventative" in its purpose was no picnic. After four weeks, my energy level had dropped and my skin was starting to redden and peel under my breast and arm. It was difficult to find a type of undergarment that would give me the support I needed for my large breasts that wouldn't irritate my skin or bind the areas that were affected by radiation. Being a business owner and a mother of two young children, I didn't have time to put my life on hold. With the help of my friends and family, I continued to work full time and managed to keep up with my other obligations.
But now that it is over, I feel I've been given a gift of an extra 90 minutes a day that I had been spending on the radiation treatment! The sky is bluer, and my kids are more precious. I suppose if cancer has a purpose, it is to help us appreciate all the living we have left to do.