2 Corinthians 1:3-4
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
My name is Elaine Gatlin and I am a wife, mother, Mimi, daughter, sister, aunt and niece. I am also a Breast Cancer Survivor. I was diagnosed with Fibrocystic Breast Disease in my early 20’s and had subsequent biopsies ~ all negative. In September 2011, my OBGYN ordered what she thought would be a baseline MRI. She did this because of my breast history and because my mammogram showed I had dense breast tissue. Also, my paternal grandmother and younger sister had both been diagnosed with breast cancer. On October 13, 2011, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Triple Positive Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Breast Cancer. I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction on November 16, 2011. My treatment consisted of 8 chemo infusions (one every 3 weeks) and 18 Herceptin infusions (one every 3 weeks). During this journey I was blessed with ever-present support from my amazing family and friends ~ my “Angels”. I feel God has called me to be an Angel to others beginning their journey with breast cancer.
May 13, 2010…the day I began my journey with breast cancer…Stage 3 Triple Negative Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I was 47 when I was diagnosed, and I was totally caught off guard by the diagnosis. First, I was in great health, eating healthy and exercising regularly. I was actually training for my second half marathon. Secondly, I really hadn't been exposed to breast cancer in my family, and I come from a family with a lot of women. I’m the 3rd of four girls, and my mother comes from a family of three girls; none of them had ever had breast cancer. My paternal grandmother did have breast cancer, but she was in her 70’s at the time and it was caught at a very early stage; not much was ever said about it. The third and most significant reason I was blown away with the diagnosis, I had just recently had two “normal” mammograms; one in September 2009, and because of dense breast tissue, another one six months later near the end of March 2010. It was only about a week after that last mammogram that I felt a very brief “pull” in my left upper chest near my arm while I was closing a window in the house. I felt this momentary “pull” another time a week or two later, again while closing the window. I thought it was just a muscle being pulled, and I certainly didn’t feel any lump in my breast. It was about another week later when, just by chance, I rubbed under my left arm and felt something that felt like a marble; it was a swollen lymph node. When it didn’t go down over the next week, I made an appointment to see my PCP. Though she did throw breast cancer out there as one of her many differential diagnoses, I still was convinced it was not breast cancer, as I had just had two normal mammograms (I was thinking it was probably just a virus). She sent me to see a surgeon. In addition to the obviously swollen lymph node, the surgeon was able to feel a lump in the base of my left breast. Breast cancer was the only diagnosis he threw out there. It was then reality set in…I have breast cancer!
My treatment included an axillary lymph node dissection to remove a large number of lymph nodes, 14 of which were positive for cancer; dose-dense chemo every other week for 8 treatments; surgery to perform a lumpectomy; and radiation Monday - Friday for 33 treatments.
Though I didn't always feel well, I feel extremely blessed to have been able to stay upbeat, positive, and happy throughout my treatment, and I know that would not have been possible without my faith in God. He gave me peace, and He blessed me with the most awesome support from my wonderful family and friends…and their family and friends! They made me smile, made me laugh, and made me feel loved. I am forever grateful to them, and it's that same support they gave me that I feel God is calling me to provide to others starting their journey with breast cancer.