Breast cancer diagnosis lands woman in hot water

For four and a half years as emergency services coordinator for Fluvanna County, I served as an advocate for fire and rescue agencies. My job was to make sure the crews had everything they needed to provide the very best emergency response for those in their darkest hours and in the most vulnerable of positions. But it was at that moment on the driveway that everything seemed to culminate. Few providers, including myself, have seen the inside of an ambulance from the patient’s perspective. That was about to change.

Boiling waters

The ambulance ride with lights and sirens was precipitated by a severe anaphylactic reaction to the Lidocaine used during the biopsy. Before I was released from the hospital two days later, I got the results of that biopsy: stage one invasive ductile carcinoma, which is the most common type of breast cancer.

Often there is no rhyme or reason to whom this disease strikes. My journey through this disease, experiencing the whole gamut – chemotherapy and its ugly side effects, breast surgery and reconstruction – has reminded me exactly how strong of a woman I am. I think I must be a rich, dark, fruity black tea!

Here is a bit of back story. On New Year’s Day, my brother sent this message: “May 2016 be a year of adventure and blessing!” I really like the idea of pairing adventure and blessing. A friend poo-pooed the idea, saying, “Adventure isn’t always a positive thing. Sometimes it turns out very wrong.”

The dictionary says an adventure is “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” It’s a daring endeavor, calling for enterprise and enthusiasm, especially in exploration of an unknown territory. Since I tend to look at everything in life as an adventure, why not treat breast cancer as an adventure? But could I see it also as a blessing?

A blessing is God’s favor and protection, conducive to well-being and happiness. Teamed together my brother’s message could be phrased: “May this breast cancer adventure bring unusual and exciting experiences, bursting with God’s favor, protection and well-being!”

As it turns out, my breast cancer diagnosis has brought both adventure and blessing. As a result, I wish my experiences to bring encouragement and hope to women facing similar hot waters. But recounting that journey is a story for another day.

This is the first of a two-part series examining Cheryl Elliott’s experience with breast cancer.

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