Stories of Perseverance: Becky Cone
My name is Becky. My support system consists of my mom, two grown children, an awesome daughter-in-law, and two wonderful grandsons that are the lights of my life. Over the past decade I have been diagnosed with several medical conditions that have made everyday life a struggle and by early 2017 my weight had climbed. I was sent to a lung specialist who told me I would die within the year if I didn’t get the weight off. This scared me enough that I began investigating bariatric surgery. In September of 2017 I had gastric sleeve surgery and that, along with a good eating program and consistent workouts helped me lose 130 lbs. I was feeling better and even though my medical conditions would not go away, I looked forward to possibly having less severe symptoms.
On August 3, 2018 I was getting ready to go away for the weekend to attend my 40th class reunion. While I was showering, I found a fairly large lump under my left arm. I was scared. I hadn’t had a mammogram for over three years (I kept telling myself that I didn’t have time) so I called to schedule one as soon as I could. They told me that since I had found a lump, I would need a diagnostic mammogram and that would have to be ordered by my physician. I called her office and they scheduled me for a visit on Monday. Over the weekend I reminded myself that there was nothing I could do until Monday and I had an enjoyable visit with fellow classmates, some of whom I hadn’t seen since graduation.
On Monday August 6, 2018 I saw my doctor. She ordered a mammogram “just in case” which was done that same day. The next day I received a call asking me to be at the cancer center that afternoon for another, more extensive mammogram and an ultrasound. During the next few weeks I had a total of seven mammograms, four ultrasounds, and five biopsies. On September 7, I had a bilateral breast MRI and three days later, as I was sitting next to a gas pump somewhere in Ohio on my vacation, I received a call. They had found many more spots (in addition to the spots that had already been diagnosed as cancerous), but said that they couldn’t biopsy them all so they would do the lumpectomy on the areas of diagnosed cancer. This wasn’t good enough for me. I couldn’t go on wondering if they had missed something, so since they had found cancer on both sides I opted for a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. I was scheduled for another consult with my surgeon and proceeded to try to enjoy my vacation.
On the first Tuesday of October I attended my first meeting at Gilda’s of Lowell. They made me feel welcome and the ladies tried to answer all of my questions and to calm some of my fears. During the months to follow they supported me through my four surgeries and there have been many times that I have turned to them for information, or more importantly, comfort and understanding. Sometimes you just need to talk to people who truly understand what you’re going through and that can’t happen unless they’ve experienced it themselves. I feel truly honored to be among these people and hope that I can someday help someone else through this journey the same way they have helped me.
As I said, I’ve had four surgeries. The first was my bilateral mastectomy on October 26, 2018 and I have three to four to go before my reconstruction is complete. There have been days that I ask myself “what have I done to myself?”, but mostly I just thank God that I’m still alive. The pathology after my mastectomy showed good margins and the four lymph nodes they took were negative for cancer so I didn’t have to go through radiation or chemotherapy. The lump that I found when all of this started was found to be a sebaceous cyst. They said that it should be surgically removed, but prior to my first surgery it disappeared. It was almost as if it was there to scare me and once I went into action its work was done so it went away.
My life has been changed forever. Because of this, I live my life as fully as possible. I cherish the hugs and snuggles from my grandsons, I value the time spent with my family and friends, and I live in awe of God’s wonders.