I often say out loud, “I am a survivor,’ feeling so proud of what I have overcome. My name is Karla, and I would love to share my story with you. It is my goal to reach out to others, providing hope and encouragement. My story began 30 years ago, when I went for my very first mammogram. The results showed multiple cysts. Since then, I have had a mammogram every year.
It wasn’t until 13 years ago that serious symptoms began to surface. Black blood was being excreted from my nipples, so naturally, I went straight to my doctor. From there, I saw a specialist. It was recommended that I had a biopsy, then surgery to remove the cysts. I was thrilled to see that the bleeding had stopped and that the tests came back negative.
I went back to my normal routine, as I believed everything was okay. Although I was told not to, I needed to go back to work, as I was a single mom at the time. Supporting my daughter was my number one concern. I put myself through school in order to get my class 1 driver’s license. This allowed me to make more money, so that I could continually support my daughter.
At the time, I was 45 and had many people telling me I couldn’t achieve my class 1. Hearing that I couldn’t do it, just gave me more determination to succeed. I have been driving various trailers (both end and clam dump), as well as a truck and pup for 10 years now. Proving everyone wrong gave me even more strength.
When I had received my class 1 driver’s license, I was still regularly going in for routine check-ups and mammograms. In May 2011, I went in for a routine mammogram. The doctor came in and did an ultrasound, then suggested an ultrasound biopsy next. This was something new, as biopsies were not a normal part of my regular appointments.
Weeks passed and I had not heard from the clinic in order to get my biopsy done. My doctor was puzzled by all the messages I had left, as he had not read the letter in which I received. Next, I went to the hospital in order to receive the ultrasound biopsy. There had always been more focus on my left breast, which is where the biopsy was taken from.
I saw that there was not only pink, but black in the sample. I knew that black was a bad sign, but I had no lumps. After giving my doctor heck, I was assured that if I didn’t hear from him, everything was good. I waited and heard nothing. This is very important, as it could save your life.
We put trust in our doctors, but I highly suggest making an appointment to hear the results, regardless of what you’re originally told by your doctor. As I hadn’t heard from anyone, I continued working around the clock. I was working like a dog so that I could bring my daughter to Mexico.
Since I would be crossing the border, I needed a letter from my doctor. I made an appointment in October, 2011. While my doctor wrote the letter in which I required, I asked him how my biopsy turned out. That is when he looked at me with a blank expression. He replied with, “no one called you?”. Naturally, I said, “called me for what?”.
That was the moment everything changed. He told me that I had breast cancer. I was filled with anger. If I never asked, I could have gone another whole year without taking action. The cancer could have kept growing without my knowledge. At that point, I had no one to talk to. Everyone was at work and I didn’t know how to tell my daughter or family. I felt as though I was stuck in my own world, lost in my own thoughts. I called my boss and she was in town, so we met up to talk.
After the news sunk in, I went back to work. Trust me, my mind was racing in circles, wandering why no had told me. I was called to have a left mastectomy and met with my surgeon at the hospital. At this point, my family knew. My mom and stepbrother came with me for support.
My surgery was booked for November 26th, 2011, which is when I planned to go to Mexico. It was explained to me that I would not heal in time, so I was forced to cancel my trip. It was only 30 minutes after I cancelled my trip that I said to myself, this cancer will not get me or take away my life.
Four weeks later, I was healed and on a plane to Mexico. When I returned in December 2011, I began my chemo. I didn’t feel scared anymore, I just wanted to fight. My doctor explained that if he didn’t know about my condition, he would never have thought I was sick. I didn’t change my lifestyle. Although the smell of beef bothered me, I never got sick. I bought a few wigs and continued to live my life, just as I did before this cancer stuff began.
In April 2012, I had my last chemotherapy session and in May, I was back to trucking. I had use of my arms, so I was instructed to play the Wii for therapy. I would play an hour at a time. Even though it hurt sometimes, I continually fought it. I told myself that I could do it.
My doctors were shocked at how I continued to live my life. I walked around proud with one breast. I did not put any fake replacements in my bra. Positive thinking is the strongest power you can give yourself. You need to fight and carry on. Two weeks before Christmas of that year, my doctor took me off my pills. He said to me, “Merry Christmas, you’re cancer free.”
During 2012, I had continued to work and carry on with life as usual, until July 13th, 2012. I began speaking to a guy on a dating website. He asked to see some pictures of me beside my truck, as he had only seen pictures from Mexico. I told him no to a more recent picture, as I had something to tell him and I wanted it to be in person.
We met up and it was a very memorable day. At that point, my hair was just coming in. When he knocked on my door, I was not wearing a wig. To be honest, I was surprised that he stayed. Since that day, we haven’t left each other’s side. Each day, I walk proud with my one breast and have the most beautiful hair now.
The best advice I can give, is to stay positive and not let cancer bring you down. Do not become depressed, letting it consume you. After 3 years, I am going in for my reconstructive surgery. My new life has begun. My cancer was from estrogen, so if anyone can relate, please know that I am here for you. You are so beautiful, so stay strong. Thank-you for listening to my story. Much love to you all.
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