Morning News Anchor Racquel Williams, blogs about how the month started with news that nobody wants to hear…
“October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” In my 25 years of radio news/talk I have uttered that sentence countless times. I have interviewed experts in the field of oncology from across the country and have been well informed about breast cancer. Year after year covering events featuring pink ribbons, walks and calls to awareness with the message, “Early detection is key.” I’ve sat in forums with women who told their stories about being diagnosed, and the struggle to fight for their lives that followed. I felt for them. I felt their pain. I wore the pink and read the PSA’s…but I couldn’t relate. Not personally anyway. I watched as friends lost mothers to this monster and vowed I will be vigilant with my own health and be sure to stay on top of my mammograms…but I didn’t.
Fast forward to October 1st, 2018. I received a call from the radiologist that had performed a breast biopsy on me just days prior. I had found a lump. The first mammogram was inconclusive. “You have dense breasts,” according to the report. A second scan was ordered, this one was called a diagnostic 3D mammogram. “A visible mass can be seen on the patient, but it is not defined on the image,” according to the follow-up report. That’s when the biopsy was ordered. Back to the call from the radiologist. “Hello Racquel, This is Dr. Barry, the radiologist who performed your biopsy. I wanted to call you as soon as the results came in as I had promised you. The biopsy shows that you have a form of breast cancer that’s called, Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, or DCIS.” I was at work when I received that call. The doctor went on to explain this condition, sharing some very important information about it, I’m sure..but I didn’t hear him. After the word cancer was uttered, I sort of went numb.
This was the beginning of my new reality, on the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, no less. I have breast cancer. No matter how many times I say it to myself, the title doesn’t fit. It took a while to accept it: This. Can. Not. Be. Happening. I took a day to wrap my head around this horrific news. I spoke with and was comforted by my husband, mother, friends, and others all who said, “You can beat this!” Although I didn’t feel much like fighting, I have since learned that this form of breast cancer is very treatable and my prognosis is good. My DCIS is stage zero, baby cancer cells in the duct that is contained. In some cases, it doesn’t spread, but in some cases it does, and there is no way to tell whether they will or not.
I’m currently in the planning stages with my surgical team on the best treatment options for me. It looks good. God willing it will be. I know not everyone receives this prognosis. Women are succumbing to this monster every year as 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month for me was one for the books.
Wear the Pink, pin the ribbons, walk the walks…but take action too. Stay on top of your health. Early detection is, in fact, key.