On Wednesday, January 18, 2012 – my 61st birthday – my primary care doctor called me and said, “Antoinette, we’ve found cancer.” It was very surreal. I knew I was supposed to feel something, but I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel.
I went from having one primary care doctor to having a slew of doctors and nurses involved in my life. And I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel a lump or a bump. I’ve never felt any discomfort. I was helpless. I’m the only one in my whole family to have breast cancer. I never expected it.
Then I got mad. I’m too busy. I’ve got too many things to do. There’s a lot on my plate. I’m raising my granddaughter. I don’t have time for this. I didn’t worry at that time, because I was just so mad!
So there was nothing I could do but do what the doctors told me, and just get better. I think being mad about it helped me get better faster.
The chemo was horrible. The chemo cocktail was on a Monday, and I’d walk away feeling fine. It was the day-after shot that would do me in. The shot was required for your bones, to make your bone marrow produce more white blood cells. Wednesday I’d get this funny taste in my mouth. Thursday it would be stronger, and I’d want to slow down. By Friday I was out, and I’d be out for about 10 days. I’d be miserable.
What makes me sad is that there’s no cure. There are younger women, much younger than me, who have had double mastectomies. I’d rather not be in this club at all. No matter how much you talk, no matter how many people come by, or call… you don’t really know until you go through it. You don’t really know. I know that I’ll never be the same.
And we’re never out of the woods. I just met an older woman, and she’s going through her second bout of breast cancer. I just looked at her and said, “You’re going through this again?” That’s when I knew, you’re never out of the woods.
Before this cancer, I was ripping and running and not even thinking about things that now I think about. I can’t get over all the hummingbirds on my front porch. I’ve always liked them, but now I just stare at them. I’ll be in bed and hear my granddaughter and Glen talking in the morning, and I hear her laugh, and I just feel her laughter.
I have to survive. I have my granddaughter. I want to watch her graduate from high school and college. I want to watch her get married. I want to be here for my husband. We have a lot more vacations to go on. I have my mom. She’s 92. You don’t bury your child. The child buries the parent.
Someday, and hopefully soon, this research could save my life, and the lives of a lot of other women after me. All I can think of is all of the women in the future, the young women. They just have a whole life to live. I hope my granddaughter never has to go through this.
I would love to hear that breast cancer was eradicated. It would be a dream come true. Knowing that 100 percent of donations goes to breast cancer, [the dream] is more believable.
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