This is Part 2 of a two-part blog post. Click here to read Part 1.
I have dear friend, Karen, who had dealt with breast cancer 10 years ago. We spoke for hours. She gave me useful information regarding the doctors I needed to call. Who knew you had to see a breast surgeon, a radiologist, then a plastic surgeon before you even met an oncologist? I was much calmer and knew I needed to follow my Grandfather’s famous words: ”put your big girl panties on, stop crying and deal with this the proper way.”
I am a very organized person. My clothes are hung in color coordinated sections and my spices are in alphabetical order. Out came a fresh notebook and I started to make phone calls. Each facility would have its own page with names, appointment times, technical information and my personal opinions of each.
Karen’s surgeon was retired so she recommended the doctor her mother used when she found her breast lump. I called Comprehensive Breast Care to make an appointment with Dr. Beth Dupree.
My fiancé and I were both prepared with notebooks filled with questions. As soon as we entered Comprehensive Breast Care, a calm feeling rushed over me. The waiting area was inviting. We saw warm colors, comfortable chairs and couches with decorative pillows. The lights were dimmed and the walls were adorned with pictures that told stories. We were led to an exam room where I changed into a robe that was soft, like the kind you wear at a spa. This place, I knew, was well thought out with the patient’s perspective in mind.
In came Dr. Dupree. She was definitely a presence in the room, but not overbearing. You simply knew she was in charge. We did not waste any time. After my exam, my fiancé and I moved to Dr. Dupree’s office. We discussed my medical situation and every single one of our questions were answered. It was at that moment that I knew I was not going to die from this disease.
Dr. Dupree handed me a binder with information regarding my actual pathology reports, surgery options and information on whatever sentinel nodes were. This disease presented me with a whole new vocabulary! Each section of that binder had dividers with tabs! I was so excited, someone understood how overwhelming this experience was and how the need for organization was imperative not just for me, but any patient going through this.
This was my introduction to The Healing Consciousness Foundation. Support is the first tab in the binder. This section contains a list of holistic therapies with the practitioners. Next, there were explanations of each service, what to expect and the benefits they offered.
To make things even easier, certificates for complementary therapies were included. No other practice I visited did anything like this! These therapies emphasized education, lifestyle modification and holistic healing. These three things were the tools I knew I needed to help understand, heal and prevent illnesses. Now I had my ammunition to fight this thing mind, body and spirit!
I scheduled my procedure, a bilateral mastectomy, with Dr. Dupree. But I was really worried about surgery. With Rheumatoid Arthritis, your immune system attacks your joints, tendons and eventually your organs. I have had over 25 surgeries and almost every one came with complications. I’ve had failed bone fusions, infections and other issues. I decided to take advantage of two of the complementary therapies the HCF provided. I felt relaxed and experienced a feeling of peace. These therapies offered pain relief for the first time in years.
Everything just fell into place. Something was different about the surgery this time. I knew this was where I needed to be. I was calm and confident.
My procedure was performed without complications and I healed faster than I ever imagined. I continued with holistic treatments, once again with the help and support of the HCF.
My life has taken an amazing turn. I feel no joint pain for the first time in 15 years! I can actually remember the last date I was pain free: Saturday, July 29th 2000.
This journey has been life changing and I’ve been given a fresh and new beginning. I’m able to do things I thought I had to give up. I can go shopping with my girls. I can sit in the car for a four hour drive to visit a friend. I can spend over an hour sewing curtains for Peyton’s new bedroom, (she stole her brother’s room the day he left for college). I can take my time and cook a delicious and intricate family dinner. The list goes on and on.
I am just an ordinary person. I am not famous or rich. I never invented a widget that will change the world. But because of generous people who believed in and supported the HCF, I was given a Mulligan. I was given a second chance. I am living pain free. I am living cancer free and can now be a good mom, wife and friend to my family and those who need me most.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to start over: a Mulligan.
Written by: Cheryl Hill, Breast Cancer Survivor, Mother, Bride-To-Be