This time just 3 years ago I was starting to feel something that just didn't feel right. I was starting to pay attention.
I had no idea my life would turn upside down in just 2 months' time.
March 17th, 2021, and December 7th, 2022, are two dates etched into my life's story forever.
On March 17th, I heard the words "Ductal Carcinoma in Situ Stage 0." It felt like a cheat code for a game I wasn't ready to play. Just 5 days prior to this diagnosis, I guided my doctors on how to treat me, insisting on a biopsy despite the benign appearing imaging my Mammo and ultrasound showed. I felt something deep within me, an intuition I couldn't ignore.
The images you see below are from my own scans. As a trained Diagnostic Medical Sonographer I have the privilege of imaging at my fingertips.
History: No family history
Reason for concern: Palpable
Date: March 12, 2021
Diagnosis: Ductal Carcinoma In Situ Stage 0
Diffuse cystic structures + color doppler, Benign appearing, > 5cm
Mammo also indicated benign findings
Treatment: Bilateral mastectomy with immediate DIEP flap reconstruction
Stage ??: Ductal Invasive Carcinoma
Size: 0.63 cm
Solid appearing, + blood flow and yet I was still unsure and waited 4 months to get diagnosed, because I was under the impression from medical professionals that it was almost impossible for recurrence.
Stage: Ductal Invasive Carcinoma
Size: 0.75 cm
Palpable (I suspected it was getting bigger when I touched it)
Solid appearing, blood flow seen within and its grown (tale tail signs of cancer) and yet I was still unsure and waited 2 more months to get diagnosed, because I was under the impression from medical professionals that it was almost impossible for recurrence.
Treatment: 5 months of chemo, Lumpectomy, 33 rounds of Radiation, Oopherectomy, Medication
Fast forward to December 7th, 2022, almost a year and half after my first, and I faced a new diagnosis: Ductal Invasive Carcinoma Stage 2. Six months prior to my second diagnosis I went through several consultations and phone calls to do something about this thing "we thought" could be scar tissue, but my spirit never gave up.
So, when I gave one last call to my doctor in December, that I had made up my mind, I wanted this thing out and I would no longer be convinced otherwise. I wanted to go into 2023 with this behind me. I have a life to live, I needed to keep growing Sanara, and this felt like a ball and chain in my life.
I can remember the day. We scheduled a quick excision in his office, fully convinced this was only, "scar tissue". I lay on his table, he numbs me up. I can remember our entire conversation. I was telling him about Sanara and I spoke about my family being migrant workers, I remember feeling proud of story and how far I had come. I remember feeling he was proud too.
I asked him if I could see the "mass" after he placed on the sterile tissue. He holds it up and makes a comment that just didn't feel right, "It's a little bigger than I thought it was."
I think to myself, "Really? Because this is exactly the size, I thought it was."
I ask him, "We're going to get that tested right?"
"Oh yes", he says, "absolutely, I understand you're worried and want this behind you"
I think to myself, "Yes, I am, yes I do and shouldn't I be?"
It was a week later that I got a phone call with my results.
I pick up, "Hi Dr....... How are you?"
Dr........"Well, I'm fair". I heard defeat in his voice as if what he really wanted to say is, "I'm sorry, this shouldn't have slipped by me." he said he had received the results of my tissue, "Ductal Invasive Carcinoma"
I say, "I'm sorry what's it called?" He repeats himself, "Ductal Invasive Carcinoma."
Thoughts rush into my head.
"I knew I was supposed to be worried."
"Why did I let this go on for 6 months?"
"Why didn't you listen to me the first time?"
This diagnosis hit me harder than the first one.
The first one I felt like a superhero. I felt the rush of saving my own life. I took the exact steps I needed to get a diagnosis and I caught it at Stage 0! Who knew there was such a stage?!
This second diagnosis, I felt like I made so many missteps.
"Rebekah, your persistence saved your life." he says.
While I was grateful for my persistence, and empathetic towards his infallibility as a human, having let my concern linger for 6 months, it left me wondering - what if I hadn't pushed so hard?
What if I was too stressed out to have even noticed?
What if I was a single mom just trying to survive?
What stage would it have progressed to?
I had the privilege of persistence; others may not be as fortunate.
Women often ask me, "What did it feel like?" As if sharing my experience would provide a clear checklist for them. If only it were that simple. The truth is our bodies are unique, and early signs of illness can vary greatly and unfortunately, sometimes not at all.
The best advice I can offer is to know your body intimately and pay attention to any changes, even those that aging can't explain.
Question it, seek answers, and trust your intuition.
It's vague advice, I admit, but it's the very tactic that saved my life, twice.
While I can't predict exactly what you might feel if faced with a similar diagnosis or entirely different diagnosis, I can tell you this: there's a hidden strength within the connection between our mental and physical selves.
If there are 3 lessons I wish to share with my story.
1. Know your body.
2. Trust your intuition
3. Advocate for yourself
And who knows, perhaps our minds become so connected to our bodies that disease is actually preventable?
In this series of blogs, I share my story as well as, dive into scientific research that demonstrates how understanding and nurturing the mind-body connection can be a powerful tool for navigating life.
Curious about where to start your mind + body care rituals?
A great starting point for your mind + body care rituals is my Chilean Rosehip Seed Body Oil, a best seller at Sanara. This exquisite blend is more than skincare, it's a step towards reconnecting with yourself. Each application is an opportunity for self-discovery and nurthing both your skin and spirit.
Try incorporating it into your daily routine, perhaps with our Morning Light Ritual or my Sueño Ritual, right before bed. As you apply the oil, let its soothing aroma envelop you. Feel the rich, silky texture nouris your skin, and with each stroke, remind yourself of the importance of self-love and care.
In those quiet moments, you're doing more than caring for your skin; your honoring your soul, allowing the stress of the day be replaced by tranquility and self-appreciation.
Whether you're embarking on a wellness journey or seeking a moment of solace, Sanara's Chilean Rosehip Seed Body Oil is your invitation to a deeper self-connection. It's a reminder that the power to heal, to love, and to care starts with a single drop of care.
sanará: You will heal.
Your journey to a stronger mind-body connection starts here. Join the Sanara community, share your stories of healing and self-discovery, and let's embark on this journey together.