In Regina Foreman’s own words:
One Friday night, after training for a half marathon, I was in the shower and found a lump. A Friday night, which meant I had to wait the entire weekend before seeing my doctor hopefully on that Monday. Fear sat in before the prayer and I felt I needed to call someone to talk to but couldn’t decide who, so I spent the entire weekend frighten. By the time Monday morning rolled around, I was tired, scared and expecting the worst.
I called my doctor’s office to get an appointment for that day and was told that my primary care doctor of fifteen years was on a week’s vacation and I would need to see a substitute doctor. A little apprehensive at first, I agreed and took the appointment. When I was called in by the nurse, a little prayer turned into a big prayer while changing into a gown for the exam. The doctor came in and was quite cheerful and soon started asking questions about my self-exam and where was the lump discovered. His initial exam took about 2 minutes and I was told not to worry that it was fatty tissue because cancer lumps do not move around like this one. Instantly, I decided I needed a second opinion. Unlike my doctor of fifteen years, I did not know this doctor. I caught the nurse’s eye and she smiled. As soon as I was dressed, she came back into the room and instructed me to make another appointment the following week with my doctor. I was not satisfied with the diagnosis and was still frighten. It was to be another week of fear, sleeplessness nights, fatigue and no appetite before I was to see my doctor.
When I finally saw my own doctor, he could tell I was frightened; so we skipped the usual small talk about family and home. He went right into the exam and I could tell by his eyes that he was very concerned about what he had found. Not only did he find the one lump, he found a second lump. My doctor immediately set me up for a mammogram that week and he assured me that we were going to get through this, no matter the outcome. He wanted to be safe than sorry. And I was scheduled for my mammogram a few days later and the saga began.
When I arrived for my mammogram, I was blessed to have women technicians. They were all supportive and assured me that they were going to be with me throughout the entire exam process. During the mammogram, one technician explained to me that she did not like the way the lump was looking. She also discovered another lump under my arm. There were now three lumps. She immediately took me into another room for an ultrasound which confirmed the third lump. Her supervisor was called in and said I needed to be scheduled for a biopsy immediately. She explained that the women in the group were apart of a network of women that specialized in breast cancer detection. Phone numbers were exchanged if I needed someone to talk to while waiting for the exam results. I left the office and told my sisters, who accompanied me to the exam, what I was told and that I had to wait for the doctor to call about the biopsy. The women in the network did not play around because the doctor called within two hours and my biopsy was scheduled.
My biopsy was scary; however, the fact that I could have breast cancer was even scarier. The doctor talked to me throughout the entire procedure. All three lumps were biopsied and because the tests were done on a Friday, I had to wait the entire weekend for my results. The Monday following the tests was Memorial Day, so I had to wait even longer. I received a call from the doctor to come into the office on a Friday and I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Triple Negative Breast Cancer. The doctor told me he was going to be with me the entire time and that he was available for me anytime. He also said that the next six to nine months were going to be the roughest time of my life. My sister, who met me at the doctor’s office to render support, took the diagnosis really hard. She left me in the parking lot and drove home, speeding all the way because she felt she needed to get home. I went to her house and we called a family meeting to tell my other sisters and my daughter. My daughter broke into tears and my niece got up and left the room. We discussed my next steps and what the doctors told me to expect with procedures and exams. By the time I left my sister’s house, fear had turned into panic and the tears started. I felt the tears would never end.
Soon the word was out and people began to call me to say they were praying for me and that I would get through it all. The hardest part for me, was telling my best friend of 16 years. She was a Stage 4 breast cancer survivor. The doctor had given her only six months to live but she refused to accept his diagnosis. She has been a survivor now for over 13 years. When I called her to tell her my diagnosis, she burst into tears. She said she never wanted any of her friends to go through what she went through. She has been a strong pillar in my fight and is constantly encouraging me to keep going even on days when I just want to turn over and give up because of all the exams, prescriptions, surgeries for my medical port to removing an abscessed lump. It seemed there was always an appointment for something.
The day of my first chemo treatment, I cried from the car, through the exam to the actual treatment room. My older sister, who accompanied me, was very encouraging. My oncological nurse told me that she would let me cry this time but after that day, crying would not be allowed. She said it I was going to get the best of care and get through it. She told me I had to hold my head up and keep on moving on. Pray whenever you feel like crying, were her words of advice.
My first four chemo treatments were every other week and my biggest complaint was the fatigue. I was always tired. I had no strength to get out of bed on some days and when I did get out of bed it was to lie on the couch. Since my daughter had to work, my niece sat with me after my treatments. I had no appetite and what food I did eat, I could not taste. The first four treatments were very aggressive and my doctor warned me that I would loose my hair and I did. I cried the first time I rubbed my head and hair fell out in patches. Hair dropped everywhere I moved. I made up my mind to have my head shaved. When I went to my stylish, she burst into tears and ran into the bathroom. I was sitting in the middle of a salon with a half shaven head. When she returned to finish the job, she said that she never expected to have to do that for me. She shaved other clients’ heads but she never thought she would have to do it for a family member.
Although I have returned to work and trying to get on with my life, my cancer fight is far from over. I recently went on FaceBook for the first time to let people know I was going through the fight. The response has been so overwhelming. People I don’t know have been sending me comments to hang in there and saying prayers for me. Although I have claimed my own healing, I have to continue the medical treatments. I believe God is using me as the miracle people need to see. My surgery will be scheduled a month after I finish my next round of treatment consisting of chemo every week for four weeks. Because I have Triple Negative Breast Cancer, I opted to have a double mastectomy because with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, cancer can pop up anywhere and at anytime. I don’t want to go through life waiting for it to return. My doctors respect my decision and I am continuing my fight by making every woman and man aware that breast cancer has no respect of persons. It can strike anyone regardless of your race or status.
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Hampton Roads, VA