Message from the President - TEST


Suddenly there was no air. I could see his mouth moving, but there was no sound.  What did he say?  My mind felt like I was trapped in some sort of third dimension that left you somewhere between reality and a really bad dream.  What did he say?  Come on, Beverly, focus.  Pay attention.

Stage 2 Breast Cancer? But how could that be?

I had a mammogram in January and my annual exam with a breast check-up in February 2010.  My doctor declared I was in excellent health!  Excellent health she said.  I had never had a doctor say that before and I felt good.

Everything was lining up nicely in my life.  My son was graduating from high school in June.  I was ready to take my next professional step...a college presidency.

I attended the AACC National Conference that April in Seattle with expectancy. My plan was to attend the Preconvention Workshop: Gateway to the Presidency, network at the conference and learn from the myriad of forums.

One morning in the hotel I felt a lump in my nipple. It was in such an odd place so I immediately called the doctor's office from Seattle.  I am sure when she looked at my records – clear mammogram, clean bill of health in February – she thought this is just another one of Beverly's lump in breast scares. (I have had lumpy breasts since I was an undergrad at Oklahoma State University.)  So, she didn't immediately agree to see me. She put me in the rotation.

I got in to see her in May and she didn't think it was anything, but to be sure she sent me to have an ultrasound.  And then suddenly I found myself creeping in to be the reluctant star of a really scary Twilight Zone episode.

I was sitting in a radiologist's office waiting for the results of my biopsy. The first thing I thought was I didn't know radiologists have offices.  When he came in he began to speak very deliberate and fast.  My mind was stuck on the first six words though. You have stage 2 breast cancer.  But in my haze he had moved on, speaking a lot of words that I couldn't comprehend.  As he left he said it will be a hard year, but you will make it through fine.

My new path was not the one I was expecting.  It was a road I had NEVER thought I would travel.  A mastectomy immediately.  Five months of weekly chemo until the last dose almost killed me the day before Christmas Eve.  Bloated, no hair, little feeling in my feet and hands.  Food tasted like tin.  Being stuck with a needle (it seemed like every day).  Taking this medicine at this specific time to counteract the chemo.  Crying at the drop of a hat – not out of physical pain, but emotional pain.  It was hard to smile.

Out of the haze I decided to call the American Cancer Society.  I talked with a very nice lady that registered me for everything.  She sent me everything.

For a person like me, information was everything.  So I read all the literature.  It became my lifeline for knowledge.

I took a friend (AAWCC Board Member, Deborah Fontaine) with me to attend the "Look Good. Feel Better" program.  She was my buffer.  And the cosmetologists that donated their time to give cancer patients a free make-over were so kind and compassionate.  I stopped feeling like I had cancer. I felt normal for that brief period.

It seemed like we were all at a Mary Kay party as we said, "No, that's not your color" or "Ooh, now that looks nice."  And to top it off, we got to look at the TLC products and take home a wig, cosmetics, and other donated items straight from top companies.  The most important thing for me was that for that time period we could smile.  So don't tell anyone…but I went twice. The second time by myself.  And those experiences kept me going during the bleak times.

The American Cancer Society is more than a commercial or something you donate to so you can feel good about yourself.  The organization stands in the gap for millions that cannot help themselves.  The volunteers are kind, caring, and compassionate people that help.  They helped me become a survivor, become a college president, and I am grateful that they were there when I called.

October is breast cancer awareness month. Please increase your knowledge and awareness of this potentially devastating disease.


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