When I first found the lump, I wasn’t even worried – it was high up, above my breast, about halfway between my neck and my nipple. It was during COVID, but my doctor quickly got me a referral for a mammogram and an ultrasound. He thought it was probably nothing, as I’ve had benign cysts in my breasts since my early 20s, but he sent me anyway. Well, as soon as I saw the mammogram technician’s face, I could tell that the news wasn’t good.
I got the official results from my doctor about three weeks later. I was devastated. He arranged for the surgeon to see me. I had a biopsy and then a surgery in quick succession. Testing from the surgery showed that the cancer was actually quite aggressive, which the doctors hadn’t initially thought, and so I had to go on a course of chemotherapy and then radiation.
When I was going through the initial diagnosis and early days of treatment, I at first didn't understand how I was going to cope, let alone live a normal life. But with time, I began to accept my new reality. I leaned on my friends and family members, especially those who had been through the same thing – they were a huge help. My friends showed up with thoughts, gifts, and meals. It was very touching and made me realize how loved I was. They were there for me through it all and consistently lifted up my spirits.
I always have short hair, but I didn’t want to go bald. That was hard. Watching my hair fall out in the shower, going all over the place, was a reminder that yeah, this is real. I have cancer. Having to wear a wig bothered me at first as well, especially because my daughter was getting married soon and I just wanted to look like myself. I was far more concerned with being healthy than I was with my appearance, but having my appearance change so drastically undoubtedly had an effect on me. I lost my hair, I lost my eyebrows, and I looked pale. I’d look in the mirror and feel that I looked so different, which only made me feel worse. I wanted to perk myself up a bit and also to learn how I could look better for my daughter’s wedding, so I signed up for the Look Good Feel Better workshop.
The workshop was great. There was one woman there with a very bubbly personality who put on this fantastic-looking short pixie wig when we were talking about wigs, and it really inspired me. The moderators were so good, so compassionate. They shared about their own experiences and created a sense of connection. I came away with some great tips – wigs, eyeliner, how to wear blush. It’s true, what they say – when you look good, you feel good.
My daughter got married last summer, and I looked great at the wedding. I had hair. And most importantly, I felt great, too.