Monica Morris

It's December 2012 and I'm getting ready to go have dinner with friends. While in the shower, I usually do my breast self-examination. I felt a lump in my left breast, hard without pain or rash. My thoughts were: just wait and it will disappear. After one week passed, it is still there—hard as a rock.
I tell my husband what’s happening and that I need a mammogram. And yes, I'm a little worried. I'm 47 years old (at the time) with no history of breast cancer in my family. Chances are it’s nothing.
On March 23, 2013, I go in for my mammogram. The technicians see something on the screen. A biopsy is the next step.
Then in the waiting room, out of nowhere, I see my husband. Our doctor, a good friend, had asked him to be there. I thought it was kind of strange, but my husband told me that Dr. Cannon had asked him to meet me there. I said, “I'm fine.”
We were called in to talk to the doctor, an oncologist from Southampton Hospital. All she said was, “You have breast cancer.” Whatever else she said sounded like, “Blah, blah, blah.” I cried. I guess the word cancer is more scary, when it’s you being diagnosed with the disease.
My thoughts were all over the place. What am I going to do? I have to tell my family, my friends. What’s the next step? I'm a calm person—but not that day or the following days.
The oncologist requested an MRI to get a better picture of my chest area. The test reveals another lump in my right breast. The next biopsy is better news. The lump is not positive for cancer, but they want to keep an eye on me, testing me every three months.
We went looking for help and answers, second opinions and doctor’s interviews. 

We didn’t have much communication from the doctor at Southampton Hospital, so I decided to get an appointment with Patricia Farrelly, M.D., of Stony Brook Hospital. I learned later on, that the right doctors are the ones you are really comfortable with, who answer your questions without doubt. My husband, my biggest supporter, was with me during all appointments and procedures. The love from your best friend is crucial along your road to survival.
After all my exams, tests and interviews, I decided to do a double mastectomy with Dr. Farrelly as my surgeon. I had one lump in my right breast that the doctors would monitor every three months. I decided I didn't want to wait to see it turning into a cancer.
My doctor and the team I chose explained everything in detail and made me very comfortable with my decision.
My first surgery was March 4, 2013 and it would he longest. The first four hours were assigned to the breast surgeon, Dr. Farrelly and the oncologist, Andrzej Kudelka, M.D., of Stony Brook University Medical Center. The last four hours would be devoted to the plastic surgeon, Sami U. Khan, M.D., also of Stony Brook.
When I woke up, I felt a numbness and a sense of missing part of my body—I did feel I lost something.
My surgeon installed an expander, a balloon that slowly inflates under your breast until you are happy with the size of your breast.
After two days in the hospital, I was discharged. In a week I received the results of lymph nodes biopsy and it was negative for cancer—great news.
Because I decided on doing the double mastectomy, I didn't need any radiation or chemotherapy. My treatment is five to ten years of Tamoxifen.
About six month after the mastectomy, I had a second surgery to insert the implants. Unfortunately, because one implant moved, I had a third surgery to fix the implant.
The Tamoxifen treatment started a year after my first surgery.  If I had done just the lumpectomy, I would need radiation. I'm happy with my choice.
Today I'm cancer free and happy to be here and be able to see my son, my step kids and my husband.  I'm able to breath, walk my dog, see friends, go clamming and swim. Many of my friends in this lifetime have been taken by this disease. The cure will be here and hopefully soon.