Valentine’s Day 1995 I had a mammogram in the morning and went back to work at Werner Ladder Company. That afternoon, the facility called and asked me to come back to have another mammogram. Something wasn’t right, but I thought maybe it was something wrong with the equipment. But as it turned out, I had breast cancer in situ.
That night, my husband and I talked about what to do. His family had always used Cleveland Clinic and our son and daughter-in-law lived in Ohio so we arranged to go and chat with them about it. Our daughter-in-law is a nurse and by the time we got to their house, she had cleaned out a couple of libraries and had all kinds of information ready for us to look through. We studied for a whole day and then made an appointment at Cleveland Clinic. By March 27, I had made a decision. I had my left breast removed and had TRAM flap surgery for reconstruction. That was a more invasive type of surgery but I still felt I didn’t want anything foreign in my body. I thought using my own tissue would be a better way to go. I didn’t need to have chemo or radiation.
My husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law, and my sister stood beside me and still do today.
When I went back to work and started living my normal life again, I found a support group and got involved with them. I still go back to the support group periodically to talk with some of the members. Donna Darcangelo, who started the support group, suggested my name to the PBCC to represent Mercer County in the traveling photo exhibit.
I always encourage other women to think about what is best for them, to talk with their doctors and their support people, but to follow their own hearts. Everyone is different. We have to believe that things are going to be better. A positive attitude is always very helpful.