Keep Calm and Carry On

By Tina Conrad

As the daughter of a two-time breast cancer survivor, I did take breast cancer seriously…I started mammograms at the early age of 30 and I practiced breast exams most months.  At the age of 37, recently married and recently promoted to my dream corporate job, I began to take notice of a change to my breast.  It was not a lump or a bump, but the center had sunken in.  My mom had always had a lump.  In the craziness of life and work, I scheduled an appointment with my OB/GYN doctor.  My doctor did not seem overly concerned but scheduled a mammogram to check it out. 

Thankfully, with my mom’s diagnosis, I was taken very seriously, even at the age of 37.  One mammogram led to another mammogram and an ultrasound.  With the wand going back and forth, back and forth on my armpit, tears rolled down my cheek.  Nobody would talk to me, nobody could tell me what was going on.  I wasn’t naïve to the situation however, after being there for my mom’s diagnosis over ten years prior.    Reunited with my husband in a doctor’s office, a doctor I had never met before, he insinuated in a cavalier manner, that I knew what was going on.  I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs. I wanted to crawl into a ball and cry like a toddler in the midst of a tantrum.  But, I sat there silent, bewildered, scared and confused.  The doctor wanted to schedule a biopsy and they didn’t like what they saw. 

I decided to seek counsel of a breast surgeon for my biopsy and I met an amazing doctor that would be part of my team.  She had my back, I trusted her, I felt comfortable in her presence and confident in her skills.  My biopsy became more of a lumpectomy and I awoke to the doctor, all business and clipboard in hand with a foreboding message, “I need you to get your mom’s records”.  That was a Thursday, I stayed home from work on Friday in a total and complete fog.  I can count the days I had missed work up to this point due to medical or illness on one hand, so this was completely out of character.  My lab results would be forthcoming, but I started making calls to my family and closest friends.  I was positive and optimistic but also realistic that this may be serious.

Then, August 5th, 2013, a Monday, a day that will live in infamy for me, I received a call at work.  It was one of those slow motion, you are in a tunnel, you can’t feel your legs kind of moment.  I knew it was coming, I sensed it, and yet… hearing those words, “YOU HAVE CANCER”.  I was shocked, I was sad, I was in disbelief and I sat in those feelings for a few days.  I buckled up, I dug deep, I prayed, I reached out, I reached in and I prepared myself for cancer.  Nothing can fully prepare you, but I was determined to Keep Calm and Carry On!