Monday, June 7, 2010

Dreams of Summer

The summer has officially begun. The children are out of school and the days are longer. The air is heavy with humidity and the pool is officially open. I breathe a sigh of relief because the school year is ending and the picnics, parties and concerts are all winding down. It is a good feeling to be on the summer schedule, yet the season always takes me back to the year I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

It was three years ago this coming August that the lump that I had found was determined to be malignant. So each year as summer begins, I tend to relive the moments that preceded that day when I felt a lump so different from anything I had felt before.

I remember that I hadn’t been feeling well for quite some time. It began when we moved to Philadelphia a couple of years earlier; I started to get migraine headaches. At first they were only right before my period and then it seemed like I was getting them all of the time. They were quite severe and debilitating.

I finally went to a neurologist who diagnosed the headaches as menstrual migraines. My hormones were fluctuating severely every month. I even began to get the headaches mid cycle. Eventually, it seemed like I was always on the verge of a headache and reaching for a migraine pill virtually every day.

One July evening of that year, I started to feel a headache coming on while we were on vacation. It put me in bed for two days. When I started to feel a little bit better on the third day, I performed my routine self breast exam which I did religiously every month. I felt something very hard in my left breast. I knew immediately that it was different. In fact, I actually screamed, “Oh my God!” Out loud.

My thoughts raced back in time to a story our next door neighbor told me several years earlier. She too found a lump and exclaimed the exact words aloud. They discovered that she had Stage IIIB breast cancer and after two years of treatment that included a bone marrow transplant, she nearly died. Every speck of my female intuition told me I was in trouble.

Sure enough, two weeks later, after a fine needle biopsy, the malignancy was discovered. The rest, as they say, is history.

So as the summer begins and the fireflies come out, I vow to try not to worry too much or dwell on the past. “Enjoy these days,” I think to myself, “the summer will be here and gone and you will be one more year out from diagnosis.” I cross my fingers, say a quick prayer to God and breathe a deep breath. “Yes,” I think, “I am lucky to have this summer, now go and enjoy it.”


IVF Breast Cancer Blog said...


Please read how IVF medications led to my breast cancer and how a breast cancer study using genetic testing to check estrogen metabolism is saving my life. Please share my story with all women who have used or are considering IVF, HRT and anyone with estrogen positive breast cancer.

Babs Riley

Chez said...

Jeanne, I feel this is a timely reminder.
My journey has taught me so much about myself, and others that, at times, it seems like a gift.
My best wishes to you.

Jeanne Marren Egan said...

Dear Babs,

I am so interested in this. I too had IVF and then breast cancer. I will be sure to read about it. I have always wondered if there was a correlation.

Jeanne Marren Egan said...

I too feel that I have learned so much about myself through this experience. I also feel that it is just one other part of my story which still has so many chapters!
Thank you!