(EDITOR'S NOTE: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. On the Sundays in October, the Gazette will feature those who have survived and are thriving despite their battle with the disease. The stories will be told in each woman's own words. Today, Pamela Gibson-Stuckey shares her story.)
I was diagnosed with Carcinoma in situ, ER and PR Positive Breast Cancer on Nov. 1, 2004. I underwent a lumpectomy, lymphadenectomy and a mastectomy.
I did not have to have radiation because my breast cancer was contained, meaning it stayed in the original area where it was discovered, my milk ducts.
In 2008, I researched a special reconstruction that I preferred and found Dr. Pierre Chevray at MD Anderson in Houston.
The doctor performed the Tram Flap Diep Procedure, a 16-hour surgery.
Even though it was risky, it was worth it. They transfer your abdominal fat, arteries, vessels and nerves and place it inside of the lining of your breast.
Dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis is one of life's greatest challenges. But it is not insurmountable.
Your attitude has a lot to do with your healing. I prayed and I worked .
My family, friends and co-workers gave me so much strength to endure and they let me know that I am not alone on this journey as I fight for my life. I will never forget what my husband, Eric, told me.
He said, "you know, you don't have to go through this 16-hour surgery." He said, "I would rather have you alive with one breast than risk your life during a 16-hour surgery. I didn't just marry you for your breast only."
He changed my Life telling me that. I cried.
There are some husbands that actually cannot handle their wife being diagnosed with breast cancer.
They panic because they do not understand what is about to change in their girlfriend's or wife's life and body.
My mom, Gloria Gibson, was diagnosed Feb. 5, 2005. My daughter, Erica Awoniyi, was diagnosed 12 years later and I had another close relative who was diagnosed 13 years later as well.
Until I was diagnosed, I did not know it was in my family so heavy. Our children, Patrick, Misha, Erica, Michael, Camille and Nia, and all of our 10 grandchildren gave me motivation to keep fighting and not to give up. Take one day at a time.
I discovered that attending breast cancer support groups, which are so important and essential for your healing. So are lymphedema support groups as well.
I love reading and listening to jazz. Traveling and other varieties of music helped me stay focused and not feel sorry for myself.
I learned that my scars are someone else's sign of hope and I learned to feed your faith, not your fear.
My church was a lifesaver, teaching me how to eat healthier and keep a positive attitude.
I learned that this is a chapter in my life -- that's it. It is not my life story and it will not be the last chapter written about my life.
My Health Lesson: Don't be afraid of your body, get familiar with it, so that if something unusual shows up, you will automatically know that you need to make a doctor's appointment. See what it is that has you concerned so that, even if it's bad news, you will at least be aware of what's wrong and have a plan of treatment.
That way you will have peace of mind. Never, never give up.