Dealing With Cancer In College
This a guest post from our Texas A&M University Intern Queen Campus Ambassador Melanie. We want to thank Melanie for being so honest in this blog.
Sometimes life hands you lemons. Other times life just chunks them at you. Right now I’m just focusing on dodging those lemons and dreaming of a day in the near future when I can make a nice glass of lemonade.
It all started when I got a call right before Thanksgiving break. My mom had just received the results from her yearly mammogram: she had breast cancer. I had no words. I wanted to tell her everything was going to be okay, but I honestly didn’t know that it would. So I just told her I loved her and would call her on my way home the next day. Thanksgiving break was a blur. My family was trying so hard to go on with life as normal, but inside we were all completely on edge. My parents went and spoke with the doctors and decided that a double mastectomy was the best option for my mom. Of course we all wanted her to have the surgery as soon as possible, unfortunately for my sister and I it meant it was during our week of finals, so we would not be able to be with her during her during her five day hospital stay. I feel guilty for admitting it, but I was glad to have an escape and go back to school even if it was to take finals, simply because being in another city allowed me to escape the surreal reality my family was facing.
I had four finals and a ten page paper due all within a span of three days so I was able to completely consume myself in my studies. While I took frequent study breaks to call and check up on my mom and see how she was doing, I was mostly able to leave the thought of cancer compartmentalized and focus on school. Then I felt a bump one night while in the shower. I immediately felt nauseous. I called my mom the next day, and with her direction scheduled an appointment with my doctor for the day Christmas break started.
Finals ended as fast as they had begun and I was soon home to help my mom. However, because I had done such a good job at putting the cancer far away from my thought process, coming home was completely overwhelming. My poor mother was in so much pain, and there was nothing I could really do about it, I had not mentally prepared myself for how difficult her recovery was going to be. The first few nights, my sister and I traded shifts every few hours in order to take care of her, as she required help with everything from sitting up to drinking a sip of water. The next day I went to the doctor, and she ordered me to have a biopsy within the next week. Honestly, I was scared, but I tried not to think about it. The biopsy itself just sucked, but the nurses were all so sweet so that made the experience a little more bearable. I got the call a few days later from the pathologist that my tumor was benign (not cancerous!). However, it did have small amounts of Atypical Ductile Hyperplasia (ADH), which is a precursor the cancer my mother had just fought, which meant that it needed to be removed. The amount of ADH found was in such early stages the surgeon was impressed they even found it. I know I am probably over sharing, but this break taught me the importance of regular checkups with your doctor. It’s because we found my mother’s cancer so early that she is going to be able to walk away from all of this a survivor and it’s because I found my tumor so early that I am able to help prevent getting this same cancer myself. This Christmas break has quite frankly sucked for my family and I. However, I am proud to say that my mother is now OFFICIALLY CANCER FREE! In about 8 hours I will be finished with surgery and tumor free, then hopefully in about 16 hours I will be watching my favorite team play in the Cotton Bowl, Gig’em Ags!! (and yes I scheduled my surgery around the bowl game ha-ha).