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– Ericka's Story

Ericka’s Story

My story began with what I believe to be the worst months to discover a huge lump in your breasts: October. I was having an aching, painful feeling in my breasts. I happened to instinctively push in when the throbbing began and felt a hard lump. It was the size of a pecan. It couldn’t be cancer because I had had a clear mammogram in January. I felt it again to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. Then I ran over to my husband and demanded that he feel it, too. He confirmed it to be true.

I called the imaging center right away and was in the very next day to take more images. I knew it was cancer. I felt the staff at the imaging center just validated my worries by the way they tried so hard to carefully speak to me and not look my way with concern. I grew anxious and frustrated. The radiologist gave me a 30% chance it was NOT cancer. Four days later, I hadn’t heard from anyone and knowing it was Friday, I called. They had the results, could I come in? No. Just tell me what I already know. It was a cat and mouse conversation. Finally, I told her I’d be there in 30 minutes. I gathered up my boys and husband and we took the silent ride over the mountain.

Diagnosis– Ericka's Story

“You have cancer.” Those words were spoken so nonchalantly by this strange man that I had never met. I was upset that I had to drive 30 minutes to hear those words as if those three words wouldn’t now turn my life upside down. The next few weeks were filled with consultations and really confusing, tough decisions. I started chemo in November of 2018. We did a pretty high dose that didn’t agree with my body. I would have one to two days of feeling “okay” before having to go for another infusion. It was a rough four months. Thankfully, the dose was scaled back for the last two infusions.

After my diagnosis, I chose to do genetic testing. I tested positive for both the BRCA2 and PMS2 mutations. It was a scary thought to hear where my percentage risks ran for so many types of cancer. I opted to have a bilateral mastectomy with expanders and a preventative hysterectomy. I experienced many complications with both surgeries, eventually losing both expanders and developing several infections with the hysterectomy, leaving an open wound for four months. The radiation was the toughest, mentally. I didn’t want to do it but I knew I sat on a grey line of needing it and I didn’t want to leave any stones unturned. No regrets. I felt as if I left a piece of me on that table every day I went in for radiation. The burning started almost immediately. I developed an open wound that eventually caused my last expander to be removed.

Motivation to Fight

I heard about the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program through my surgeon. I knew I had lost a lot of my strength as I laid in bed over the last ten months. I wanted a way to gain strength but really wasn’t sure where to begin. I am so thankful for the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program. I am currently going through immunotherapy infusions and still feel run down. Knowing I have a commitment has helped push me to get up and get moving. I love having personal coaches to encourage and guide me. I can’t say enough about the program. I only wish it were longer! I would recommend this program to anyone that has been through or going through cancer treatments!

 

Ericka Meik

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