Share your story—Save a life
Last November, with the promise of an impending vaccine against COVID and a return to normalcy, it was easy to toy with the idea of skipping the annual mammogram. What would be the harm with no family history and no previous suspicious findings?
Then I remembered the dozens of Dallas ISD breast cancer survivors whose stories I had edited for the past two years as part of the Dallas ISD Goes Pink! campaign led by our Benefits Department. They spoke of courage, strength and survival but also of urgency: Don’t wait because early detection is key. They probably saved my life.
Heeding the collective advice, I did schedule my mammogram for the week of Thanksgiving, and, by Dec. 7, after a second mammogram and a needle biopsy, I had been diagnosed with ductal in situ carcinoma. Not skipping the annual screening meant I was very lucky—it was found early.
Because the pandemic made it impossible to travel, I could not rely on family for help through surgeries and treatment. I depended on the family I have made here in Dallas and in the district. I relied on the kindness and directness of the women who have gone through this before and who were there to answer questions as I had to make decisions and face challenges. I relied on friends who just let me cry on the phone when I needed to and still do, on others who cooked for days so I could have protein rich food as I recovered from surgery. I relied on friends who cheered the end of every week of radiation and who celebrated the 15-minute walks I could barely manage as if they were marathons, who were with me at the hospital for surgeries and who spent days with me to make sure I was recovering.
The journey to recovery and, hopefully, remission is not one that should be traveled alone. I was fortunate to have great support and benefits through Dallas ISD—especially the employee assistance program—and to have access to fantastic and compassionate medical personnel at UT Southwestern.
I owe a debt to all the Dallas ISD women whose stories during past Dallas ISD Goes Pink! campaigns instilled the importance of annual screenings and the hope for survival. Had I waited a year, my prognosis and treatment would have been very different. If you are a breast cancer survivor or you are going through treatment now, share you story by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll publish these stories through October. You never know, you might save a life.