This is the story of Sofia Rygiewicz's experience with breast cancer survivorship!
My story begins shortly after my 40th birthday March 2009. I scheduled my mammogram and was preparing to have it done and just cross it off my list of things to do. I wasn't worried, even though my mother had breast cancer five years ago. The doctor's said since she was 63 when she was diagnosed, I really didn't have to worry. Right.
I knew the moment they called to have me come back for another mammogram that something was not right. But again I was told not to worry, but since I'm a RN I knew better. After the second mammogram, they wanted to biopsy the calcified area. I was told 80% of the time, it's nothing...it's a good thing I don't gamble.
I will never forget the day I got the call. I was home alone and after the words "it's cancer" I heard nothing else except the word "invasive" none of these words were promising to me. I cried and continued crying because I didn't know how I was going to tell my husband, my children and especially my mother. My role changed immediately. I was not the nurse this time, I now became the patient. This was something I was not used to.
I underwent genetic testing and I was blessed with the information that I do not carry the breast cancer gene. I was diagnosed with stage 1 invasive cancer and I had a lumpectomy in April. My lymph nodes were negative so I did not need chemotherapy, only radiation 33 treatments which I finished July 21, 2009. I am now on the five year tomoxifin plan.
This experience was truly an eye opener, I found out how blessed I am with such wonderful supportive family,friends, and co-workers. The expression "you really find out who your friends are " during a crisis holds true. My son who is 12 and his friends wore pink bracelets to school everyday. My daughter who is 10 and her friends made me a huge pink get well banner. My children learned it was ok to talk about "cancer" and that it's not always a death sentence. My husband used humor to get through it...he kept me smiling and laughing even when I wanted to cry.
I highly encourage ALL women to get their mammograms and not wait. After my experience three friends went in to get theirs done after putting it off. I would also like to see insurance companys cover mammograms for women before the age of 40. Even with my family history, my insurance company would not cover any mammograms until I turned 40. That needs to change. We need to make it change!
Sofia recently told me that her mother was diagnosed with another form of cancer. Let's be sure to keep Sofia and her family in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing your story Sofia!