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Darcelle - Bodies of Courage Bodypainted Cancer Survivors

It all started in June 2005 when I went for my annual mammogram.
At the end of the month I received a letter from the imaging center stating that I needed to have my left breast rechecked.
I thought nothing of it (I have such a wonderful happy life what could be so bad?) and called them to schedule me for three weeks from now because my husband, son and I were going to Ireland, and again not giving this recheck another thought, went to Ireland for two weeks and had a fabulous time, absolutely beautiful!

So in the middle of July I went back to Susan Cheek Powell Cancer Center, had my left breast rechecked and still not thinking much about it.
I was told that calcifications were found on the mammogram (earliest stage) and I they needed to do a needle biopsy.
After that they said I had a 70-80% chance it was NOT cancer and a 10-30% chance it was.
Well sounds like the odds were on my side!
So on August 4th I went back to the doctor’s office all happy and smiles, to hear the doctor say “Darcelle I’m not going to tell you what you want to hear”. I said “what?” and she repeated it.
I started crying and made her call my husband.
My husband is the best thing in my life ever! He is my rock.

September 14th I had a lumpectomy and in January 2006 (had to wait because of insurance issues) had 33 treatments of radiation.
Shortly after the treatments I started to notice my left nipple a little raw and bloody also a yellowish discharge, I immediately saw my breast surgeon, oncologist, gynecologist, radiologist, family practitioner (who is also a breast cancer survivor) many times within the next four years.
Not one of them could tell me anything but “I’ve never seen anything like that before”, “I don’t know what is wrong.” but did nothing about it.

My husband went on the internet and found that it could be ‘Paget’s Disease of the Nipple” (of course it’s very rare) And, that’s what we believed it was.
I have documents stating all the doctors saying NO that we were wrong.
They were absolutely positive it was not, huh, I was wrong and dealing with this for 4 years.

Then in April 2010, my left underarm was really swollen so I went to my family practitioner and she told me it was just an inflammation.
I couldn’t except that so I went to my oncologist’s office and saw his nurse, Linda, she looked at my nipple and my underarm and said I’ve been dealing with this problem too long and ordered a biopsy on my nipple and a sonogram on my underarm.
Low and behold the results were “Paget’s Disease of the Nipple”. How about that?

So my breast surgeon called me on the phone and bluntly said your cancer is back, we need to biopsy your lymph nodes and schedule a bilateral mastectomy!
WOW! I freaked!
Within a couple of weeks cancerous lymph nodes developed on top of my left collar bone.
It was determined that I would have chemotherapy with my “new” oncologist, who I just love.
And I no longer see that family practitioner.

My husband went with me for my 1st treatment and other times when he was able.
I never went alone, a friend or relative (most of the time my mom) went with me to every treatment.
After just one treatment the nodes above my collar bone were just about gone.

My mom moved in with me and my husband to take care of me during my chemo treatments and after my surgery.
She also did all the cooking and cleaning, I never wanted her to leave!
She’s the best, and there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for her children.

I had chemo till Feb 7th 2011.
And diagnosed Cancer Free on Feb 11th!
I had my double mastectomy on March 22nd, ouch what an experience.
I had reconstruction started on my right breast, they, my breast dr. and the “tumor board” said I had an 80% chance of the cancer coming back so the plastic surgeon would not reconstruct my left breast for 3-5 years.
And stupid me thought, they are the doctors they know what’s best. HELL NO!

Two months later God sent me an angel named LynnMarie, who in turn introduced me to another angel, Peggie.
They made me realize that I need to live my life that the cancer is not coming back, not that there is a chance or it might come back.
So with LynnMarie’s help I got a new plastic surgeon and will get my left breast reconstructed on November 23rd!
I’m very grateful for all my loving family and friends who were with me during this journey.
I know it isn’t over yet but my life is FANTASTIC!!!!!
And a zillion thanks to LynnMarie and Peggie.

God has definitely blessed me,

Love Darcelle