One Year Since My Mastectomy


Wow. It’s really hard to believe that my one year anniversary has come and gone so quickly! Has it actually been one full year since this whole experience began? Time flies when you’re … well, maybe it wasn’t that much fun.

But really, I am completely amazed at how time flies.

September 11th of this year marked the first anniversary of my mastectomy.

On that day in 2006, I went under the knife and had my left breast removed. On that day, I officially began my new life.

And on that day, my world, my thoughts, my feelings, and my priorities, completely and radically changed.


I really wasn’t fully aware of what I was facing, and I wasn’t completely aware of how close to dying I really was on that day.

See, what I didn’t realize was that, statistically speaking, if I had refused treatment or taken too much time to think about it, I had less than one year to live.

If I hadn’t decided to act quickly and go through all four of the treatment regimens (including mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and estrogen blocking therapy) I would not likely have made it to the one year mark.

Yes, my particular type of breast cancer was furiously aggressive and, if left untreated, would have certainly caused my demise.

And it hit me…

If I was born 50 or more years ago, and had been diagnosed with this same exact form of breast cancer, I would not likely have lived to write this blog post today.

Essentially, I owe my existence to modern medicine.

My body would have failed me at the age of 36 or 37, without the aid of modern medicine and ultra-​​modern chemo treatments.

Wow! How can I possibly express how this makes me feel?

There simply aren’t enough words to define how I feel about this. Shocked? Yes. Amazed? Absolutely.

But I think the word that comes closest to defining it is “Grateful”.

I am grateful for every day that passes and I’m still healthy. I am planning on being around for a lot of years.

I can afford to plan for this because my life was saved one year ago.

An entire team of medical specialists rushed to my aid and with their help, I am in remission today.

I plan to stay in remission for the rest of my life.

And no matter what, every day that passes is a gift. It’s a gift I am humbled by. It’s a glorious, wonderful, beautiful gift I would not have been entitled to a few years ago.

No matter what happens from now until I am old and gray and ready to move on…I am acutely aware that none of my day-​​to-​​day experiences could have happened if it were not for the love, kindness, caring, and advanced medical treatments I’ve received.

I see the world differently now. I don’t know how to explain how my perceptions have changed.

Everything that happens, whether it is good or bad, is an experience I have been gifted with.

If my kids get on my nerves, I am grateful for it because I am still available to be irritated by them.

If I feel overworked, I am grateful that I can still be around to run my business and experience the stress.

If I invent a new product or have a new business idea, I am grateful for it, because I know it is one more idea I would never have had time to invent.

If I go on a trip, I am grateful for the chance to see one more exotic location I could have died never having seen it.

If I wake up in a cold sweat from having a bad dream, I smile knowing it is a dream I would never have seen.

I have no idea what the future will bring. I don’t know if I will ever have my breast reconstructed. I am not sure what experiences I will have before my next Mastectomy Anniversary. I can’t be 100% certain that my cancer won’t come back.

But I know this…

Every experience, every smile, every tear, every feeling, every thought, every thing that happens is a gift I’ve been given.

It’s the Gift of LIFE

P.S. I may not post much to this blog in the weeks and months ahead, but don’t worry.

It is quite simply because I am spending more time living than I ever did before. I’m getting out there, living, loving, and laughing. I’m experiencing each moment I have left. Whether I have 1 year or 50 years to live, I intend to do what brings me the most joy.

The Gift is very precious to me, and I accept it with open heart and open arms.

Thank you for sharing my journey!

31 Comments so far »

  1. Tatiana V said on:

    September 27, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    Hi Syvie :) and I am so glad to read this post of yours, where your words are flowing while filled with happiness and gratitude :) You go girl! You deserve every bit of happiness and joy in your life, and I am so glad that you were able to beat the cancer and live healthy and happy again, surrounded by the love of your husband, children, and family and BLESS YOU :)

  2. Phil Ballard said on:

    September 27, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Hi, Sylvie ~

    I have been thinking about how you were doing and I’m thrilled that all of our prayers were answered as I sure felt they would be.
    You’re a special person and I believe you will be taken great care of!

    You’re one tough cookie and we are so PROUD of you and you awesome attitude!
    “You Go Gal!” Get-​​er Done! Have Fun, be happy{ You’re worth it )
    God Bless,
    Phil,

  3. Kimberly Spear said on:

    September 27, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Sylvie,

    So great to hear you are
    Livin and Lovin Life to
    the fullest.
    You are one special lady.
    The joy and sunshine you
    bring are a gift to many.

    Thanks.
    Kimberly

  4. Lisa Manyon said on:

    September 27, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    Sylvie,

    Keep on living!!! That’s what it’s all about and you have been so courageous. You are a true inspiration.

    Lisa

  5. Suzan St Maur said on:

    September 28, 2007 at 6:07 am

    Great post Sylvie!

    Having cancer certainly makes you re-​​prioritize your life, as you seem to have done. For that reason cancer can be a blessing, because it obliges you to focus on what really matters in life. That’s what it has done for me too.

    SUZE

  6. Nancy Woodward said on:

    September 28, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    sylvie, I am touched. I went thru the experience of helping my ex while he was ill. I never had experienced serious illness in my family.

    I am changed. I am also grateful for the sun, the world, my family, work, friends and most of all for each lovely day I enjoy here.

    I am so glad you are in remission. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Nancy

  7. Kathryn Merrow said on:

    September 30, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Dear Sylvie,

    Very wise words from a very wise woman.

    Kathryn

  8. goldie adler said on:

    October 8, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    I was amazed by your story because its exactly my story. I also had a left mastectomy on Sept 11 2006, and I also went through all those treatments. I’m in remission , feel great and hope to do so for many years. I can identify with every word you wrote. MAY WE BOTH CONTINUE TO BE WELL.

  9. Ugo said on:

    October 17, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    Hi Sylvie,

    I thank ‘God for your recovery and strength. I also pray that HE grants you so many more anniversaries to come!!

    Remain blessed!!

  10. Jillian Coleman Wheeler said on:

    November 13, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Hi, Sylvie,

    I’ve been following your progress through mutual friends and reading your blog. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing so much of your life with all of us.

    Jillian

  11. Shirley said on:

    December 25, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    Sylvie,

    I am SO glad to see this post of yours! I spoke to you on the phone back in the summer, when I was conflicted over my decision about whether to get chemo or not.

    Our talk really helped me! I want to tell you that even though I was still very conflicted, it helped me to talk to you.

    In the end, I decided to go ahead with the chemo. I had 4 treatments of Taxotere and Cytoxan, and I am doing just great! I had minimal side effects from the chemo. My last treatment was Oct 9th.

    I have had reconstruction, and am now taking Tamoxifen.

    Just wanted to share this, and to thank you for your help… you are a very sweet person, and you really helped me to feel better about my breast cancer diagnosis, and treatment.

  12. Denise Aukerman said on:

    December 30, 2007 at 2:43 am

    Sylvie,

    I wish you continued strength and happiness.

    Denise

  13. Judy said on:

    January 11, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Dear Sylvie,

    I have just today read some of your entries from last year and saw your movie when your head was shaved and read your last entry. I had breast cancer too and just ended treatment and started tamoxifen today. I send you love and thanks for sharing. You have a gift with words and are very beautiful. I want to have all the joy and peace and love I can in this world and give the same to others. Let’s Live! And keep on living!

    Judy

  14. Tiffany said on:

    March 5, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    I was doing some research on breast cancer when I ran across your blog. I thought I should stop in and say how inspiring your story is. My mother in law was diagnosed with breast cancer quite a while ago, and lets just say it hasn’t been as easy trip. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. After discussing it with her doctors they decided that chemo and a mastectomy were her best options. They did her surgery quite a while ago. Recently she has been hinting that she is thinking about getting a breast implant. I guess missing one is really hard on her self esteem. We just keep telling her that we will love and support her, no matter what her decision. I just hope that is the right thing to say… I’ve been at it for hours, trying to gather all the info for her on breast implants as I can and I ran across a website called http://​www​.ebreastaug​.com that I am going to have her take a look at. Hopefully it will be able to answer some of her questions, and maybe even find a doctor in her area. Out of all the websites, news articles, and personal blogs that I have been through all of them keep saying that it is important to be properly educated before making any decisions.

    I know I’ve already said it but I have to say it again. Your blog about being “grateful” has been inspiring.” I have to get back to my research, but I just wanted to say good luck!! I hope everything gets better and better for you… I am going to ask my mother in law to read some of your blogs; she might find some useful hints… You have a wonderful way of inspiring others through your stories on this site. But I’m sure you’ve heard that before!!

  15. Linessa said on:

    March 7, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Sylvie,

    Only those who have traveled the road of cancer and have lived through the “almosts” truly understand what a gift it is to have another chance at life. Everything tends to be more intense and special because you can compare it against the reality of “I might not have been here to experience this if…”. I too am so grateful for those of us who have made it through the experience of breast cancer and those who will have the courage to continue to do so. God’s greatest blessings to you, Sylvie.

  16. K Anding said on:

    March 20, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Hi, Sylvie. Isn’t the gratitude you feel after getting through this experience immense? I, too, am a survivor, and when I was diagnosed I had about a 30 percent chance of surviving (even with the modern medical treatments available). I’m celebrating my 2-​​year anniversary of finishing chemo this weekend (on Easter), and, yes, I am grateful for the medical expertise, friends and family (and grace of God!) that got me here. I also recognize the role of my own strength in my healing process. You, too, sound like such a strong, beautiful woman. I wish you many more adventures and gifts in the years to come. Much love!

  17. Andy Henry said on:

    March 30, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Thanks Sylvie for your efforts in keeping this site up-​​to-​​date and useful.

    My sister has just been diagnosed with Stage2 Breast cancer and I’ve pointed her to your site. She’s amazingly positive and that was one thing that struck me about you.

    I’m sure your words will inspire her and help us all get through what’s to come as well as possible.

    Regards,

    Andy

  18. Everyone is having surgery! « Hot Shot Tiff said on:

    April 1, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    […] a wonderful blog earlier this week by a lady who was dealing with breast cancer and if you click here you too can read it.  It briefly explains the trials and hardships that she has been through and […]

  19. Breast Cancer said on:

    April 22, 2008 at 3:37 am

    Keep going on fighting. Checkout my Breast Cancer Site

  20. Karen said on:

    April 24, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Hi Sylvia

    You are an inspiration. I too have an indepth understanding of your story, i was diagnosed in May 2007 and had chemo immediatley, November i had a bilateral mastectomy followed by radio in Jan 08. Its nice to hear so much positive coming from another cancer patient. To me you are the Hero. Keep us updated

    I’m on a real high at the moment as i get to see my plastic surgeon tomorrow

    Lots of Hugs
    Karen

  21. Roy Hewitt said on:

    July 14, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Hi Sylvie,

    You are an amazing lady. Thank you being such help to others. Sincerely, Roy.

  22. Katy Widrick said on:

    August 8, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Hello!

    I found your blog while looking up resources for breast cancer patients, and thought you might be interested in a woman who’s taken a pretty unique path in her own cancer battle. Meg Gaffney is a nurse, and when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided to skip chemotherapy and radiation, and go right to a bilateral mastectomy. But when her plastic surgeon recommended a skin graft surgery to build up new nipples, she decided to incorporate art into her own personal healing process.

    For Meg, that means getting nipples tattooed onto her body instead of the graft surgery, and now — after months of searching for an artist willing to take on her challenge — she’s about to get the work done!

    We’re 8 parts into a documentary on Meg, which is featured on GrowingBolder​.com. I’d love for you to check it out and let me know what you think!

    growingbolder.com/media/h…cancer-part-8–181742.html

    Meg is dynamic, creative, and completely committed to ridding the world of cancer, and her spirit is contagious.

    Thanks for your time, and best luck in your own journey!

    Katy Widrick
    Executive Producer, GrowingBolder​.com
    katy@​growingbolder.​com
    407–362-8237

  23. Nell Taliercio said on:

    September 30, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Sylvie — I’m watching Oprah today. It’s about breast cancer and it made me think back to you and this blog. I see your last post was in June and I do hope that you’re thriving and doing better than ever before. Thinking of you,

    Nell Taliercio

  24. Deborah said on:

    November 26, 2008 at 2:50 am

    congratulations

  25. Cancer Support Community said on:

    May 12, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Sylvie, thank you for sharing your experience with us. Through our work at the Cancer Support Community, we understand many of the challenges that face women during their breast cancer journey. Unfortunately, we also know that most women experience some form of distress due to their cancer. And many feel their emotions are misunderstood.

    As a survivor you know firsthand the impact a cancer diagnosis has on women with the disease and their families. To help improve the breast cancer experience, we need to understand more about the emotional and social needs of breast cancer survivors. Please consider joining us by sharing your experiences as part of a national movement of breast cancer survivors. Learn more and join at http://​www​.breastcancerregistry​.org.

  26. Karen said on:

    May 29, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Hi Sylvia, you have so much strength and I hope that you are doing really well.

    i was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 after being I was told I was paranoid in 2006. had chemo, bilateral mastectomy and radio. Unfortunately my cancer returned a yr later and have metz to the bone. I have just had another 6 rounds of chemo and am still fighting strong. Still positive and loving life. .
    I am writing my story in full from my journal at http://​www​.breastcancerstory​.co​.uk to hopefully help others
    Kind Regards
    Karen

  27. Karen said on:

    May 29, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Oh forgot to say I am writing my full story from my journal at http://​www​.breastcancerstory​.co​.uk to hopefully help others

  28. joanne carrello said on:

    March 15, 2011 at 9:03 am

    hi my name is joanne got diagonsed with breast cancer on 22nd dec 2009, after finding lump under my arm, had 29 lymph glands removed 20 had cancer i have er,pr,her2 postive cancer have gone 14months since and feeling pretty good, white cells abit low but they say better low than high ‚i have read all your stories and it doesnt matter were we live in the world you just have to go through this and we are family, i hope you are all well xx

  29. joanne carrello said on:

    March 16, 2011 at 9:18 am

    i wrote last night i feel a bit sad because i wrote about my self, i looked at all your letters and you didnt say what you had if you lymph gland involvement ‚sorry still very stressed with it , i still feel we are alive and I hope you are all doing amazing,one of my friends has had breast cancer for 4 years and tonight they are going to turn her life support off just abit sad another one lost amazing lady and everyone will miss her

  30. Monica said on:

    April 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Sylvie,

    I live in South Africa and was diagnosed with breast cancer on April 11th, 2011 and have been informed that I must undergo a double mastectomy in the next few weeks. I have been struggling with trying to come to terms with it and out of sheer desperation started reaching out to other women to share their experiences in coping and surviving this horrible disease. I came across your blog and I want to tell you that your words are very encouraging and you are a courageous woman. I like the way you look at your ordeal in a positive way and hope that I too can get through it the way you did. You set such an admirable example to me.
    I wish you continued happiness and I send positive energy your way.
    God Bless
    Monica

  31. joanne carrello said on:

    April 28, 2011 at 10:24 am

    hi monica its jo thanks for your response,its has been 15mths for me have done chemo, radiation 31 times. hercepton for a year, zometa every 6mths for 3 years and tamoxifin every day for 5 years, feeling pretty good, stay strong they are boobs you can have lovely ones after surgery or during ‚this is your life and funny but as hard as it is you will be ok i dont feel any different to what i did its in my mind but every day is good, i wish all the strength and it would be lovely to here from you again

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