By Eboni Rogers, Special to AFRO
Fight like a girl, and win!
My story is not unique from any other woman’s story, but it’s my story nonetheless. Have you ever sat and wondered how your life would turn out to be? Have you ever thought about what you would do if life handed you a bunch of lemons and you didn’t know how to make lemonade?
Well, these are just some of the things that have crossed my mind a time or two, but this time I had to not only think about what I would do, but I also had to do it and do it to survive.
At the age of 38, on Aug. 8th, 2012, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Ductal Carcinoma HER2+ Breast Cancer in my right breast.
Eboni Rogers (Courtesy Photo)
I remember one day, after getting out of the shower, I looked in the mirror and noticed a dent under my right breast. Thinking nothing of it, I continued to get dressed and go on about my day. As the day went on I couldn’t stop thinking about that dent in my breast, so I decided to call my GYN and make an appointment. The day that I arrived at my appointment, I just never gave pause to what it could be. I simply thought that this was normal and that my body was going through changes as I was getting older, but, boy, was I wrong.
Going through the exam and studying the look on my GYN’s face that she didn’t like what she was feeling. My doctor suggested that I have a mammogram and ultrasound of my breast, and at this point I was nervous. When I arrived for my appointment I felt an uneasy feeling that I could not shake. After the mammogram and ultrasound, the radiologist came in and spoke to me.
Do you remember the cartoon, Charlie Brown? Remember when they were in class and the teacher was speaking and all you heard from her was ‘WONK WONK WONK?’ Well, that is all that heard when the radiologist told me that there was a mass in my right breast and that it was not benign. I left there in shock and in tears, I just knew my life was over. I immediately called my mother and although she was always my voice of reasoning and comfort, there was nothing that she could say to me in that moment to comfort me.
I had to go through a series of painful biopsies, x-rays, and MRI’s to determine what type of breast cancer I had. I remember laying on the table being injected with numbing meds, and I began to cry. This could not be my life, this is not what I had planned, I had things to do, I am a single mother of two beautiful boys that I had to be here for. On their first attempt at obtaining breast tissue, I felt the excruciating pain of the ripping of my breast tissue, I began to scream, the lidocaine was not working. My mother came into the room to comfort me because I was out of there, I didn’t want to do this, I couldn’t. She begged me to stay, she promised that she would not leave me, and she didn’t, not one inch, from day one, she has been there. I laid there and endured them ripping and tearing at my breast tissue to get a sample of the tumor and to place metal clips in my breast that I still have to this day.
I went back to work as a corrections officer, and I received a phone call from my GYN asking me is it okay to talk, I knew at that point this was not going to be good.
She said to me, “Eboni, I have the results back from your biopsy and it pains me to tell you that you have Ductal Carcinoma breast cancer, Eboni…Are you still there?” I just sat there, I couldn’t say anything but manage an “mmhm” response.
On the drive home from work, all I could do was think about my boys. I couldn’t leave them, I couldn’t die, they need me and I need to be here for them. When I got home, I grabbed my laptop and began googling Ductal Sarcoma and I began to panic, I was going to die! Then this voice in my head said “Eboni, call the doctor back to make sure you are looking up the right thing.” When my GYN came to the phone, she could tell that I was in crisis mode, she said in her sweetest and very calming voice ‘Eboni are you on the internet?’ ‘Yes’ was the only thing that I could mutter through my tears, I was a snotty mess. She said to me very sternly, yet sweetly, “Eboni, you are not going to die, get off the internet, you have Ductal Carcinoma, not Sarcoma.’
You do not understand what that meant to me to hear those words. Now I knew that I had a chance and that I need to fight. I did. Google will have you thinking that you are going to die even from the slightest cold diagnoses.
By the time I saw my breast specialist to discuss what my options were to treat and beat this cancer, I was at stage 2. Late August is when I had my first surgery to remove the tumor, a lumpectomy.
In September, I received a phone call from my doctor telling me that they didn’t get it all and I will have to have another surgery if my breast could handle it. So later that same month, I had another surgery to remove more breast tissue where the tumor was, which made my right breast much smaller.
Oh well, I’m still here!
On Oct. 19th, 2012, I got the best news of my life! Dr. Joh called to tell me that I am cancer free! I cannot begin to tell you how joyful I felt. I cannot explain the feeling, yet my fight was not over. In November, I began my chemo treatments for the next month and a half, four cycles of chemo. The first day I went, my mother and my aunt came with me, sitting there watching me going through the most tragic part of my life. I know that my mother was scared and had to be hurting from watching her only child go through this ordeal, and fighting for her life. My boys were also the source of my strength, they never left my side. Seeing their mother endure so much, they never let me forget how much I was loved and that they were going to help me get through this.
Losing my hair, developing chemo mask, losing my finger and toenails, being hospitalized for dehydration, not being able to taste my food, being in pain daily, all of which I endured! One particular night, I was laying in bed in so much pain I cried out to God, asking him not to leave me and keep me. I drifted off to sleep and the next morning when I woke up, I was not in any pain, and I felt brand new. It was then that I knew that God had heard my prayer and I was going to be okay. I completed chemo in January 2013, then right into radiation everyday for the next 6 weeks, then right into hormone suppression therapy for the next 10 years of my life.
I am still suffering from the side effects of chemo and hormone suppression therapy, neuropathy and hot flashes from hell, I manage to deal with my new normal. This may sound crazy, but I would not change my experience for anything in this world because it showed me who God is and I will tell everyone how the goodness and the love of God saved my life This journey has not been easy, but it was my journey.
I fought like a girl and won!
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