In honor of National Breast Cancer Month, Montco Happening is proud to feature the work of Randi Rentz. The local teacher, resident, and breast cancer survivor has turned what was once an unimaginable diagnosis into a message of hope and strength for all of us to hear. We hope that you take the time to read each of her articles this month because whether male or female, we can all educate ourselves more on a disease that seemingly has touched us all in one way or another. We wanted to give a personal thanks to Randi for all the work that she does for cancer patients and families in and around our community. Swing by Randi’s website to learn more about her mission and to see first hand why she was recently voted BEST Blogger in Montgomery County in the Happening List 2014′!!!
In Her Own Words
“On April 20, 2008, I was cleaning out my father’s attic when I felt a shooting pain under my left breast. I am a person who can tolerate pain (except needles); however, this pain knocked my socks off. I immediately felt a shockingly prominent lump.
The same sharp pain occurred in the middle-of-the-night awakening me three more times that week. I thought I dislocated a rib and went to my chiropractor for an adjustment, however, the pain persisted. It felt like a scalpel slicing the bottom of my breast over and over again. I decided to move my mammogram to an earlier date to see if something was going on.
I had my mammogram, which went smoothly and came back clean. The tech was kind, gentle, and apologetic for smooshing (a clinical term) my breast into the vise-like machine. I wasn’t convinced. I grabbed the radiologist’s hand and asked her to feel the lump. She said the lump was probably nothing or probably a cyst and told me if the pain persisted she would do an ultra sound next week. Whoa. Stop right there, sister. I insisted on the ultrasound that very moment, and boy, oh boy, am I glad I did. I was escorted into a quiet, dark room and given a warm blanket, which had “nap” written all over it. The doctor was chatty; then she stopped talking. I saw the doctor’s facial expression change drastically as she held the wand on my breast. I knew this was not a good sign. She finished and told me to get a needle biopsy as soon as possible. ASAP? She didn’t like what she saw, and I didn’t like what I just heard.
When I went into the breast surgeon’s office to have the needle biopsy, he had difficulty drawing fluid from the lump. Not a good sign. He told me to go home, not to worry, and that he would call me with the results. The words “breast cancer” lingered in my mind like a dark storm cloud.
When the pathology report came back, I got the phone call which went like this….”Randi, you have breast cancer, but you will be fine.” That was the biggest oxymoron I’ve ever heard in my life. Don’t you agree? How can the words, “you have breast cancer, but you will be fine” be used in the same sentence?
In an instant, my life changed forever. Over the next year, I had a lumpectomy, months of chemotherapy and weeks of radiation.
Nearly six years after my diagnosis, I find myself in a very different world than I did that fateful day in April when I felt the first stab of FBC (f-bomb cancer) pain. In addition to teaching, I am now a writer and a speaker, dedicated to helping people navigate the breast cancer experience. Shortly after my diagnosis, I began writing a blog, Why Buy a Wig…When You Can Buy Diamonds!
My blog is both a resource for firsthand information on what it’s like to be treated for breast cancer, includes healthy recipes, inspirational people, fashion, books, and a whole lot more. If you or someone you know is facing a breast cancer diagnosis, here are my top four recommendations:
- Do not make any rash decisions. Despite feeling like a bomb hit you, the situation is more than likely not emergent (i.e., requiring medical intervention within 24 hours).
- Prepare a list of questions before every doctor’s appointment and take a calm and collected friend with you to document questions and answers.
- Determine the best way for you to communicate (or not communicate!) with friends, family, and colleagues about your diagnosis and upcoming treatment.
- Begin building your own comprehensive medical records. At the time of every appointment and test, request a copy of the results and progress notes. This is well worth the effort.
*This is the first article in a four-part series by Randi Rentz during October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For more information, go to Randi Rentz’s blog, www.randirentz.com and read more about Randi and her inspiring entries.