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October Breast Cancer Awareness Month! My wife is a survivor and in her 23rd year

By: Charles W. Boatright

Be a Breast Cancer Survivor and Supporter! October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month- My Wife is a fighter, survivor, and supporter.

YOU CAN BE A SURVIVOR! Take the needed precautions to prevent or address Breast Cancer as my wife did to be a survivor now for 23 years. My wife had a history of breast cancer in her family, so she knew she was predisposed to breast cancer. This made her have a heightened awareness with performing self exams and catching her breast cancer in the early stages with a medical diagnosis.

We only had been married for five (5) years when my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had four (4) surgeries and six (6) months of chemo treatments. She was in her mid-thirties, so this is not a disease that discriminates based on age or race. One of the best things we did was after the Doctor performed the biopsies, we sat down with our doctors to lay out what steps we needed to take, based on the results we got back. This allowed us to be proactive, instead of feeling helpless and being preoccupied with anxiety and fear. The best thing someone can do is to keep notes and chart what course of action that will be needed for different scenarios.

One scenario was if the tumor was benign and another scenario if it was malignant and what stage of progression it was in. We also got appointments with an oncologist and plastic surgeon during the period while we were waiting for the results. This not only helped us to set up a course of action, but more important provided essential information and occupied our time between the biopsies and receiving the results.

The key question we asked the oncologist was given my wife’s family history what were the odds on the cancer reoccurring if we had a single mastectomy. She informed us that given the history, it had a high chance of reoccurring. This caused us to consider a double mastectomy. We didn’t want to have the cancer return and repeat the marathon again. Knowing the statistics on re-occurrence actually made the process bearable for us. I know that women with a family history of breast cancer are considering preemptive measures. This has to be consider on a case-by-case basis with consideration given to your history. This is a personal decision based on statistics.

Due to My Wife’s History

Due to my wife’s history, we had made the decision to have a double mastectomy if the tumor was malignant, regardless of the stage. I use the word ‘we’, because being the husband, you might not be going through the surgery and treatments, but you are feeling the stress and anxiety as if you are. Especially the series of prescribed chemo treatments that we would have to go through.

In regards to chemo treatments and drawing blood prior to each chemo treatment, my wife had what they refer to as a port installed just under her skin in her upper chest during her double mastectomy surgery. This is like a rubber semi-sphere ball with a tube connected to it that is grafted into your artery. The Port saves the vanes in the forearms from constantly having an IV inserted into them. Sometimes the vanes can collapse from over use due to administering the chemo. It also reduces the discomfort of having a needle stick each time. We highly recommend that you consider the Port if you have to have a mastectomy followed with chemo treatments.

I’m happy to report my wife is in her 23rd year of being a survivor. The feature photograph was taken last year, in 2019. One thing cancer does is that it gives you a new perspective on life, as you enjoy every moment of life and especially the small things. My wife even enjoys traveling with me on business where I present business plans how golf can be an integral part of a corporate strategy to develop customers relations. The photograph below was taken in October of 2019.

Maintaining Your Strength During Chemo

In regards to chemo treatments, you will need to keep up your iron and protein, and find one, two, or three menu items that are appetizing and stay on those items. If it is a milkshake from your favorite dairy bar, that’s your diet. If it is a steak & eggs or even a basic hamburger, or even a cake and that all you can eat, that’s your diet.

When I was growing up, I worked in my grandfather’s bakery and I still have all his recipes under lock & key. One item my wife enjoyed was Red Velvet Cake that I had a recipe for and that was one of our best sellers; instead of the eggs the recipe called for, I tripled the number of eggs. My wife was able to maintain her weight and more important, her strength to take her chemo treatments except for one that she missed due to her white blood count being too low.

There was one other item that she could eat on some occasions and that was Filet Mignon. So be ready to adjust to what your loved one is able to eat; and you’ll have to adjust on the fly at times. But the main thing is to make sure your loved one eats to maintain their strength and weight. Even if you have to feed her yourself. There were times that food tasted metallic to my wife and wasn’t appetizing, I found a list of alternative foods that she could eat and had them at the ready. Another option that she liked was Wendy’s Frosty which was soothing to her.


Share Your Experiences with Others that are Facing This

You might think that your experiences of going through breast cancer, regardless of of how many years ago it was, is of little help to others, but the truth of the matter, sharing your experiences with others help will let that person know that they aren’t alone. Sharing your experiences actually helps to reduce their anxiety and know there are answers and a pathway through this. Even little pieces of advice will help ease their burden of going through the surgeries or series of treatments.

I have a good friend that his wife went through breast cancer as my wife did, just sharing our experiences with them provided encouragement. Encouragement is a significant medication everyone needs. Keep these people in your prayers and on your speed dial and let them know that they can call anytime when they need you.

You are actually a lifeline for these people just like their medical team are.

I hope this helps in some small way. But research, information, and examinations are your allies in the fight for a cure to Breast Cancer.