#BreastCancerAwareness – My battle with Breast Cancer by Marisse Mercado
Every year in October, the entire world is celebrating the Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And weeks before that every year, I have always been preparing the pink ribbons to be put at all the Dial A Battery ladies’ desks to show support to all those battling with the deadly disease. Ironically, it was during that time in September last year, when I was diagnosed with the same illness.
A Bump in the Road
It all started in the middle of the lockdown during the pandemic when I noticed what looked like a lump (the size of a grape) on my left breast, so I tried to make an appointment to see a gynecologist. But because of the lockdown during that time, going to the hospital was not made possible at all. As soon as the hospitals opened up to the public, I immediately went to one and had a gynecologist looked at it, the gynecologist suspected that it might be cancer. She contacted a general surgeon and walked me over there for an appointment. Then they ordered an ultrasound, mammogram, and a core-biopsy. Soon after the biopsy, I received a diagnosis of what was thought to be at that point Stage 3 breast cancer, an invasive lobular carcinoma wherein the lump has now turned to the size of a golf ball in just a matter of few months so I had to immediately undergo a radical mastectomy as the cancer had already spread into the lymph nodes under my arms.
At that time, I had so much going on emotionally that I didn’t have time to focus on how I really felt about my diagnosis. There was no sense in worrying my family, so I decided not to tell them right away. In hindsight, taking those couple of days to sit with the diagnosis was very helpful, it enabled me to gain a level of acceptance before I shared the news. Plus, it was much easier to handle my family’s worries once I had more information.
After my surgery, I was referred to an oncologist and underwent 8 cycles of chemotherapy which started in November 2020 and lasted until April 2021. The chemotherapy sessions were done every three weeks to help the body recover from the last infusion. The treatment did not go well at first as my body has not been responding properly to the chemotherapy which led me to undergo blood transfusions and ended me in the ICU for almost a week. Eventually, everything started to be fine with the aid of injections which helped stabilize my blood counts, shots that I was trained to administer into myself, that I have to inject every other day during the entire course of chemotherapy treatment.
After recovering from the effects of chemotherapy, I started the radiation treatment in the last week of May. The radiation was the most time-consuming part, because I went five days a week for five weeks as I have to complete 25 sessions of radiation therapy. And upon the completion of this, I was prescribed a drug that reduces the risk of cancer recurrence and metastasis, and I’ll be taking it for the next five years.
A Strong Support System
The chemotherapy time was the hardest and the most challenging part of my battle. I lost my hair, but that’s no big deal. I was in pain, but I didn’t mind. The most difficult part is accepting the fact that at that time, you just don’t have the strength and the capability to do all your responsibilities in life, but yet you couldn’t do anything no matter how hard you try. And during those times, I just leaned on the support of my family, my loving brother along with his wife and kids who stayed by my side through thick and thins, always assisting me every night and day, in and out of the hospital; my friends; and my Dial A Battery family who came to my treatments to offer moral support. I am blessed to have you as my support group, which helped me a lot in dealing with this kind of ailment.
Throughout this whole ordeal, Dial A Battery did not leave me, I felt very lucky, because I was secure in the knowledge that no matter what happened to me in that journey, Dial A Battery will always be there by my side. I have been on Sabbatical Leave since my treatment started and it is only through the goodwill of Dial A Battery that they have been giving me all the support which keeps me going on with my treatment, and I am very much thankful for that!
Paying It Forward
These days, I am feeling great and keeping active, knowing that I can finally go back to living a normal life that I have been looking forward to for the longest time. I feel like I passed my bump in the road, and now it is all about paying it forward by guiding those who are going through a journey similar to mine. I knew it is a way that I could give back. I think positivity is the key to getting through any tough challenges like this. Denial never helps, accept it! Do not blame yourself for this ailment. Do not fear, cancer does not discriminate on gender nor age. I would tell someone in this same situation to stay positive, never doubt whether you will survive or not, and try not to dwell on it. Do not take advises from other patients, each body is different and behaves differently though we share same symptoms. Talk to people, go for a walk, exercise, and do things to keep yourself occupied. Enjoy every moment of your life, but self-care is the most important of all.
I certainly know that a lot of people have different situations and challenges in life. I also know that people who experience battles and challenges deserve to be heard of, hoping that their experiences will somehow enlighten others that anything can happen at any given time in their lives, sometimes when they least expect it. I want to thank Dial A Battery for giving me the opportunity to share what I have been through and most importantly, I want to thank Dial A Battery, from the Management to the Staff, my sincerest THANK YOU for all the support that you have given me throughout my battle against cancer. I would never have survived this fight without you!
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