DO NOT WAIT, MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT TODAY
Below is the first of a series of stories from individuals who have been impacted by cancer. Dr. Linda Ornelas Wilson from Bastrop County shares her reflections through her cancer journey.
My name is Linda. I am a 6-year survivor of Stage 2 breast cancer. I am like so many women trying to juggle work, family, grandkids, parents, and other interests. Like many women, we do not prioritize ourselves when it comes to taking care of ourselves. When I had a moment to breathe, I remembered I needed to schedule a mammogram. What I didn’t remember was that it had been 3 years since my last screening. Time got away from me.
When they told me I had cancer, my first emotion was anger. Not because I had cancer. Our odds are 1 in 8. I was angry that I would be letting my family down. I took care of my mother, who died from cancer. I helped my daughters with the grandkids. My husband needed me. I felt so guilty that I lost track of time, and now I would not be available to be the helper I had always been. I couldn’t help but believe it was my fault that the cancer had spread.
Of course, there is the fear of the unknown. How would surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation affect my ability to function? I am a physician, so I knew what to expect on an intellectual level. I had no idea I would react the way I did. I withdrew. I really didn’t want to talk about it. My family was there for me, but I did not want friends to be “burdened” with a sick friend. I did not want to ask for help. I was always a strong woman. I was prepared to just get through it, but it was much more difficult than I imagined. Of course, being a physician, I knew there were complications. It took me much longer than I anticipated to regain my strength. I still have residual issues.
If I could turn back time, I would get that yearly mammogram and make screening a priority. I would reach out to the world of support that was there for me, but that I didn’t access. I would have welcomed my family and friends’ help. I would not have been afraid to talk about it. I would have reached out to Breast Cancer Resource Center. What I have learned is that there is a sisterhood of survival, and sometimes even a stranger can be a source of strength.
What I am still learning is that we should share our stories. It may help your daughters, friends or family realize the importance of screening. It may help a stranger realize that they are not alone. Talking about it is a form of healing and helping others. We are all human, and boundaries disappear when we share our humanity with others.
Most of all-there is help and hope no matter who you are.
MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT FOR FREE SCREENING TODAY, DO NOT WAIT! YOUR HEALTH MAY DEPEND ON IT.