Breast Cancer Patient Shares Her Story: I Couldn’t Seem to Stop Holding My Breath

We continue to share with you a series of columns authored by Melissa Riley, a breast cancer patient in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Ms. Riley writes movingly of her breast cancer care and treatment experience in the third installment of a series described as a “guidebook” by one reader.

The first two installments are discussed here and here.

In her latest column, Ms. Riley shares this as she begins radiation therapy, pointing to the importance of early detection:

[I]f I hadn’t been going for yearly mammograms, my cancer, which was spreading, could have made its way into my lungs or other parts of my body.

I learned that stage 0, 1 and 2 breast cancer cells are still confined to the breast.

Stage 3 and 4 breast cancer cells have entered the lymph nodes and are now in other parts of the patients’ body.

The author relates in detail her journey while sharing her feelings about the experience at each decision, care and treatment step.

For example, surrounded by family and friends offering a variety of viewpoints and advice, the author shares:

So now in addition to not being able to concentrate, not being able to make decisions, feeling depressed and holding my breath, now I felt pressured.

At this point, I wanted the doctor to just tell me what to do.

I didn’t want any choices.

I didn’t want to read anymore about it.

I just wanted this over with and behind me.

As breast cancer surgeon Dr. Jay Harness describes it, a breast cancer patient requires support and compassion “in exactly the moment” of their anxiety and fear to be able to think clearly:

As a doctor and surgeon, I tell my patients that “I am not afraid of your cancer, nor is my staff.”

If faced with a breast cancer diagnosis, we understand you seek support, guidance, compassion, treatment and care using the most advanced medical expertise.

And emotional reconstruction.

Which is why we say, We Live You.

This entry was posted in Breast Cancer Surgery, Doctor-Patient Relationship, Information Strength, Mammograms, Patients Speak, Radiation Therapy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Breast Cancer Patient Shares Her Story: I Couldn’t Seem to Stop Holding My Breath

  1. Pat Haldin says:

    I have loved my treatment by Dr Harness (my double mastectomy is still a miracle) and when I asked Dr Harness after surgery now I could such a massive surgery with no pain,and still have most of my breasts, he laughed and said because he was a good doctor! That was an understatement! But being a nurse and teaching classes in Healing of the Whole Person for years I still struggled with the rest of the medical part of my recuperation. After one session of chemotherapy it had to be discontinued because of my severe reaction. Now I had only one option: radiation and with hundreds of articles and friends trying to help me make the next decision I finally went to my pastor who told me to stop relying on my own understanding and realize that God had given me the best specialist in the country or even the world and trust him to take care of me. What a relief to know that God was in charge and cared enough to give me the best team so I could relax and trust God to work through Dr Harness and his team to get me through the rest of my journey. I am sleeping better and know one day I will be a whole woman again. ( I will soon be 83!)