Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
My name is Shawn Michelle Oates-Martin. I am a married mother of 6, grandmother of 4. On January 1st of this year I found a lump in my breast. I had been on vacation for the Christmas holidays and was getting ready to return to work the next day. I'd jumped in the shower and was in the process of washing up the same way I do every day when I felt something different in my left breast. A chill ran through me. I think I instinctively knew it wasn't good. I got out of the shower and asked my husband to feel the jack ball sized knot that seemed as though it popped up out of nowhere. He confirmed that it wasn't my imagination and I called my OB Gyn right away although it was after hours. I informed the doctor on call of what I found. He told me to be at the MRI center near me first thing in the morning for a mammogram and after that to come to the office immediately.
I followed his instructions and was soon at the office seeing my physician, Dr. Patricia Mooney-Smith. After examining me and getting the results of the mammogram which of course was abnormal, Dr. Mooney-Smith sent me right downstairs to surgeon, Dr. Trent Failing. Because of the size of my tumor 1.8 cm, it had to come out right away whether it was cancer or not. I was scheduled for surgery January 4th. My lumpectomy was performed at North Kansas City Hospital. Dr. Failing called me on January 8th to give me the news that not only did I have cancer but I had an extremely aggressive fast growing form of cancer which explains why the tumor seemed like it came out of nowhere. I was told that I needed to begin treatment right away and was referred to the Kansas City Cancer Center located in North Kansas City.
While I was waiting for my appointment with them I had to have another surgery called a Sentinel Node Biopsy and Tumor Margin Revision. The reason why this is an important procedure is because the sentinel lymph nodes carry fluids and cells from the breasts to the rest of the body. If these nodes do not have cancer cells in them that's a good indicator that your cancer has not spread. The same is true of the tumor margin revision. If the margins are negative for cancer cells the chances of it having not spread is good. Thankfully my results were all negative. I also had surgery to have a port inserted for my chemotherapy along with a bone scan, PET scan, CT scans, and lab work. With all the test results back, I met with Dr. Christopher Sirrage at the KCCC, at which time he staged my cancer as IIIB. I was a little taken aback by that as I assumed that because my test results indicated my cancer had not spread I would be a Stage I.
I was informed that I had triple negative breast cancer which is the most aggressive and also that on my PET scan it indicated that possibly one of the mammary nodes deep in my chest lit up on my PET scan. I also tested positive for the breast cancer gene. Up until that moment I don't think I realized the true gravity of the situation. All I could think is wow the last stage is IV. That was a sobering moment, thinking of my family, especially my 7 year old son who in my opinion needs his mommy the most. During our visit Dr Sirrage referred me to the breast cancer specialist at KCCC, medical oncologist Dr. Maureen Sheehan, her Nurse Practioner Jennifer, and radiation oncologist Dr. Mark Thompson. Together they made a plan for me to to do what's called "dose dense" chemotherapy, 4 rounds of Adriamyicin and Cytoxan then 4 rounds of Taxol; followed by a double mastectomy, 6 weeks of radiation, and last a breast reconstruction. I've done everything except the final reconstruction and thankfully all of my test results indicate I am cancer free.
I actually had my last check up yesterday and I don't have to see my doctor for 3 months. I felt like running out of there laughing and screaming literally. I have my final reconstruction the first week of December. I can't wait to get my new boobs and never have to wear a bra again!! As I type this I am so humbled by the grace God has shown me throughout this journey. I won't say it's been without pain, but it could've been so much worse. I can't list all the ways my Father has kept me but I can say definitely say that I have felt His love during this journey more than I ever have in my entire life. Because I have the breast cancer gene I had a greater than 80% chance of getting breast cancer in my lifetime. It happened at the best possible time if there is such a thing. Even in something so scary ,the Lord ordered everything to perfection. Prayerfully I will remain cancer free and I claim healing by the blood of Jesus.
The last thing I want to say is ladies please get your mammograms and as soon as you feel anything suspicious in your breasts or any other part of your body run don't walk to the doctor. My regular checkup was not scheduled until May. Because my cancer was so aggressive those 4 months in between could have been the difference between life and death for me. Triple negative breast cancer is the most aggressive and deadly form of breast cancer. It affects black women at a much higher rate than other ethnicities and we are dying from it more than anyone else most times because we do not seek treatment in a timely fashion. There are many places, KCCC included, that will treat you for cancer regardless of your ability to pay. There is a boy in my son's 2nd grade class who lost his mother to breast cancer over the summer. To my understanding she waited too late to seek treatment. That could've been me. If you have any questions regarding my treatment or anything else I've touched on in my story please don't hesitate to message me on Facebook. Another good source of information on triple negative breast cancer is a local non profit run by Consuela Harris called "Surviving The Odds".
May God bless and keep you. Remember to self check those breasts!
Shawn Michelle Oates-Martin