By LeAnne Taylor, The News On 6
TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- Over the past month, I've featured stories about many of our neighbors and friends who take part in the Komen Race for the Cure every year.
So I thought it might be important to tell you why I participate in Komen Race for the Cure.
I asked photojournalist Charlie Willsey to help me tell my story.
It was about seven years ago this month that I found the lump when I was doing breast self exam.
I had been a medical reporter for 10 years and had done stories on it before never realizing that lump could be something serious.
I waited for probably two months just to see if it might go away. When it didn't, I knew I needed to see a doctor.
I didn't think it'd be cancer. A lump is a lump. It isn't that big a deal.
Then going in to see the surgeon and they do the biopsy and then you get the call, you have cancer.
My world just spun out of control. I remembered being on the phone being rather of matter of fact with the doctor.
I wanted to have surgery, I wanted to get it out. I wanted to get it out today.
And then when I hung up the phone, that's when the water works began.
That's when I started crying, realizing this was life or death.
Immediately went in and had all the proper procedures, had surgery.
The tumor was real small, one point one centimeter.
I was very fortunate. It was not in my lymph nodes so it hadn't spread but then came the next bombshell when the doctor said I think you need to have chemotherapy and radiation.
And I remember as a medical reporter, patients saying if the cancer doesn't kill you, the chemo will, so I was not happy about this.
I thought I've beaten this, I've had surgery, it's not spread.
Why do I need chemo?
My doctors laid out a great case. They said if that one cancer cell traveled anywhere else in your body, and multiplied, it may be too late to find it and kill it.
We'd like to treat this aggressively on the front end rather than wishing we had down the road.
So I went through four rounds of chemotherapy and 33 days of radiation and now I'm cancer free.
And the thing about chemotherapy that was so hard, because surgery you can cover up the scars but when you go through chemotherapy and you lose your hair.
That's when everybody knows you're sick. So I decided to have my head shaved. I had Andy with the clippers, Rachel with the video camera and my little guy Nick was standing there with his mouth open trying to figure out why mom was having her head shaved.
My story's not all that unique.
A lot of women who go through breast cancer have the exact same story. I just happen to have a platform to share. You know, I've grown up on Tulsa television and so when I went through this part of my journey, I knew I was going to someday share this with the viewers.
I needed to announce I had breast cancer. That was probably one of the hardest days of my life.
But once I made the announcement it was amazing, the outpouring of support was unbelievable.
In fact, I have this, I call it my treasure trove. A box where I started collecting all the things people sent me.
It was scarves, it was CD's, it was cards and letters and emails and trinkets and I kept all these things because this is what helped me get through, to read from survivors who'd already gone down this path, for viewers who said thanks for getting up and being there for us every day and for those who said if you can do that I can do what I'm going through.
And that made a big difference.
My family and friends played a huge role in my healing as well. My husband never once doubted that wasn't going to be healed.
That I was going to be okay.
My kids gave me a reason to get out of bed every day. My friends came by and supported me with dinners and taking care of the kids, just making sure I was okay.
The number one thing that got me through all this was my faith and people praying for me and that's where I am today.
Grateful for every moment, appreciative of all the blessings that I've been given and now sharing my story with others so that they know there is help and hope and healing and that you can survive and thrive breast cancer, that it's no longer a death sentence.
Thursday, September 16, 2010, is the deadline for you to sign up with my team in this year's Komen Race for the Cure.
This year's race is on September 25, 2010 at the City Plex Towers on 81st Street.