My name is Bridget and my surgeon was Dr. Matthew Kilgo. I had gone for my annual gynecology appointment. My daughter was about a year and a half. And prior to knowing all of this, I had fiber adenomas, which are benign, non-cancerous lumps in the breast. And I was told 10 years prior that it’s good. Everything’s fine. What have you. So I never followed up on anything.
And then when I went to my annual gynecology appointment in 2018, she had said, do you know what? You had a child. Why don’t you go get a new sonogram, just new baseline. If nothing’s wrong, nothing’s wrong, whatever. Okay. So I scheduled an appointment on, I don’t know, a weekday morning and I got an ultrasound. And the ultrasound technologists, she called in a radiologist and I was like, hmm. They just want to once things over.
So she came in and the radiologist, she looked at the screen. You’re going to need a biopsy. Okay. So I got my biopsy. It was probably about four or five days went by and I never got a call. So I said, oh, let me call. I’m in my office. I call. And the receptionist says to me, have you spoken to a doctor yet? I said, no. She says, I’ll get one for you.
So now I’m sitting on hold in my office and I’m like, oh man, you know what? Maybe it’s just a doctor can only give you the results and what have you. So the radiologist who did the biopsy gets on the phone. Well, I’m sorry I have to tell you this, but it is carcinoma. Do you know when you see in movies, the person stands still and the world is turning around them? That’s exactly what happened to me. I was 26 years old and my daughter was a year and a half. I really liked the excitement of life was just happening. And I know the word carcinoma means cancer, but I couldn’t believe that this was about me.
I think in those first 36 hours of finding out that I had cancer, the biggest thing to me was my daughter was a year and a half and she wasn’t old enough to remember me. I really stressed about her not having a mom. I didn’t know the course of treatment. And all I saw was the younger you are, the more fatal it is. And it was very frightening, but that’s so not what happened to me, luckily.
As individualized as cancer treatment is, it’s really a lot of like a flow chart. If this, then that. And if you have this, then this happens. My medical oncologist, my breast surgeon and my plastic surgeon, they know the course of treatment. So they just told me that that’s the way it was going to go. But getting the comfort from my medical team really kind of settled things for me.
My daughter being a year and a half, have really no comprehension of anything that was going on. This was her world and that’s just the way it was rolling. And by the time I went to my third chemo, it was time to shave my head, that my hair had been falling out. And I was so scared of what she would think of me with no hair. I went to chemo that day because I figured the first place that I’d go I’d fit in. So I felt fine that I shaved my head, but then we had to go pick up my daughter after. And I was like, oh my God, she’s going to freak out. I look like a little boy. So I go up to her and I make eye contact and I’m like, hi, Jenny. And she goes, hi, mommy, like it was nothing. Like nothing had happened.
And then it wasn’t till I was almost done with chemo. It was after Christmas. She had gotten a little beauty set for Christmas from Santa Claus. And I went to go pick her up from my in-laws and she was playing with the hair clips. Oh, mommy, I do your hair? And I’m like, okay, let’s see how this goes. I come up to her and she goes with a hair clip and she goes, mommy, no hair? I was like kid, I’ve been bald for five months and you just notice now that I don’t have hair? But, okay. But, she clearly was my drive. That was the reason for doing this all.
My breast surgeon had… It wasn’t like a suggestion. She said that a double mastectomy is what’s going to happen. She said, the question is whether it’s nipple-sparing or not. So I, pre cancer, had a very small chest. And there’s certain measurement of where your cancer is in location to the nipple of whether the nipple should be removed or not. And mine was within that radius. She said, but, it’s kind of relative. If you were a DD, where it is close to your armpit versus your nipple is more of a distance. Where on me there was not much space. So she said, it’s really up to you if you want to do nipple-sparing or not. I don’t care about my body image, the way that most people do, but all of a sudden I did. Because that was what I could have control over. I couldn’t have control over how I was feeling and the rest aesthetically, but so now reconstruction was for me.
So I had a bilateral mastectomy and it went to expanders. And Dr. Kilgo and Bobby were like, we’ll put them in and it’ll be nice and quick. That kind of thing. So while I didn’t care so much about my reconstruction, all of a sudden through treatment and stuff, this was something to look forward to for me. Reconstruction was something that was going to make me again. When I got my exchange surgery, it was just kind of this like phew, done. It was like seal the envelope, let’s move on kind of thing. And I really felt that once I got my reconstruction and my exchange surgery, so I have implants in now, I felt like I could be who I thought I was going to be at this age, physically.
So now I am out of treatment about two and a half, almost three years. And my daughter is four and a half now. She’s going to pre-K and she doesn’t look at me as that I’m different than any other mom. I’m the only mom she knows. She just knows that mommy is stronger than daddy.
What I’m looking forward to in the future would be living life, which I feel like I really have. I’m typically a pretty reserved person as it is. I didn’t go skydiving or anything like that craziness. But I do find myself nowadays after cancer treatment, just doing things because I want to. And it includes doing things for other people as well, but it’s because I want to. And it’s nothing to please other people, but it’s because, you only have one live. So live in.