The paper crinkled beneath me as both the nurse and doctor examined the images of the tumor on the computer monitor. My
pale husband hovered in the background. The doctor glided the ultrasound wand over my left breast and armpit searching for the best spot to insert the aspiration needle so to grab tumor cells for a biopsy.
Tears were falling down the sides of my face and dripping onto the paper. The nurse, clearly trying to distract me, asked, “How old is your little girl?” The inside of my nose burned and the lump in my throat barely let me get out “almost nine months.” She continued, “What’s her name?” Floodgates. I plead “Please, I’d rather not talk about her right now.”
The two questions that consumed me the day of my diagnosis were: 1) Who will be a mother to my child? 2) What did I do to get cancer?
My breast cancer diagnosis blindsided me and it has not only forever changed me as a person, but also as a mother. It took my fertility, left me scarred and tattooed, and achy like an 80-year-old. At times, it has made me both anxious and depressed, frustrated and discouraged, but most of all, it terrifies me. I worry about a recurrence and what my odds would look like then. My little girl was just a baby back in 2008, but I fear if cancer came back today she would definitely understand the battle that would lie ahead and I simply cannot bear to see her worry about me.
Not only do I anguish over my own health, but hers as well. At this point many experts would suggest she start mammography exams at age 23 – a whole ten years before I was diagnosed. Twenty-three year olds should be having fun, not mammograms. I don’t carry the BRCA gene mutation, so I’m left to wonder if it was something I did, ate, inhaled, was exposed to, stood next to, contracted, or was born with to cause this disease. Without knowing what caused my breast cancer, I am worried that I cannot protect her from it
This is why I choose to Act with Love.
The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation is challenging us as a community to invest ourselves and our dollars into preventive research. The only way we can 100 percent prevent breast cancer by uncovering the cause of the disease. This is the only way to quiet the fear and worry as a parent – well, until she starts dating and driving!
I proudly support the Foundation’s efforts to end breast cancer and Act with Love to create a future without breast cancer. I am a member of the Army of Women and have participated in the Health of Women Study. I do it for myself, my sister, my girlfriends, my neighbors, but I especially do it for my daughter and her friends. I feel like doctors are so close to finding out what causes breast cancer and I’m certain we’ll see this disease eradicated in my lifetime. It will happen — with love.
Blogger, Mother, and proud supporter of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation
To learn more about Wendy’s story visit: www.wendy-nielsen.com.