October Breast Cancer Awareness Month
ywcaencore Stories of Inspiration & Hope
My name is Michele D’Costa and I have been married to my sweet husband for 26 years and am the mother of four great children. I work full-time at the Hamilton General Hospital.
I was diagnosed with stage 3a breast cancer on November 19, 2010, after finding the lump myself during a breast self-exam in the shower.
I initially found it at the end of July 2010, at which time it was half-an-inch big. By the time I finally went to the doctors, and was officially diagnosed, the tumour was 5” x 8” and aggressive. Surgery was not an option, because of how aggressive it was, so the plan was made to start chemo first, do surgery second, and finally radiation.
Sitting in that surgeon’s office hearing those words…thinking about it still gives me chills. I thought my life was over. I had a son graduating from high school in June, and I honestly did not believe at that time I would be at his graduation. My prognosis was unknown.
I had exactly one week to get my life together before I started chemo. I went on sick leave, and made all the appropriate phone calls, and mentally prepared for the battle of my life. I had four children and a loving husband who I needed to be here for, and I made up my mind I was going to fight with everything I had. I have a strong faith, and if not for that, I don’t know how I would have gotten through.
Journaling and prayer every morning were my solace. My work colleagues, boss, friends, neighbours, extended family, and church family were also a huge support.
I started a blog to keep everyone updated http://firstname.lastname@example.org. This blog was cathartic to me. I often go back and read it and can’t believe I was there. It is a wonderful reminder of the miracle God performed in my life. He healed me literally inside out.
What has my experience with breast cancer taught me? To me relationships are the most important thing. If I want to hug my children, I do. I don’t worry about who is looking, or if they squirm away. Actually, after everything we’ve been through, they don’t squirm away anymore…lol.
Becoming part of ywcaencore was the final phase to my healing. I was so grateful to have found this group of women – it’s very healing to be around others who have experienced the same journey as you have. We laughed together, cried together. We were educated in healthy eating and exercise and on how to live a healthy lifestyle. Out of this group, friendships blossomed.
My message to other women is “DO THE SELF-EXAM”. It saved my life. And when you find a lump, get it checked out immediately. I waited a few months, and when I did go, I went reluctantly thinking I was being a hypochondriac. My outcome could have been different if I had gone earlier, who knows?