“Mommy, are you going to the hospital to go to heaven?”
These were the words spoken by the six-year-old son of Lynn Burge. These words left an indelible mark on her heart. She knew that no matter how she felt, she had to fight.
More than fifteen years later, Lynn still remembers these words. She shares that seeing the effect her cancer diagnoses had on her children was one of the hardest parts of battling this devastating disease.
How It Was Discovered
Nineteen years ago, Lynn was working at the cleaning business that she and her husband owned. As she was wringing out a mop, she accidentally bumped her breast with the mop handle. What ensued was a whirlwind of events that turned Lynn’s life upside down.
The day after the bump, Lynn noticed bruising and swelling in her breast. Her husband suggested that she go to the doctor. Lynn reluctantly went, not knowing what to expect. The doctor quickly ordered a mammogram. The mammogram came back unclear, so a core biopsy was performed. After the removal and analysis of seven samples, the devastating “C” word was spoken.
Lynn’s oncologist informed her, “You have breast cancer. You are not going to die.”
Lynn had some challenging choices to make. As a thirty-three-year-old mother to a three-year-old and a six-year-old, she couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to see her children grow up. She had a slow growing breast cancer that had infiltrated her milk ducts. Unbeknown to Lynn, it had possibly been silently invading her unsuspecting body for five years prior to the diagnosis.
The doctors suggested a lumpectomy, but since there was no promise that the cancer wouldn’t come back, Lynn made the hard choice to have a bilateral mastectomy to reduce the chances of a repeat occurrence.
Lynn had surgery on March 4th. The surgery revealed that she had much more cancer in her body than what was initially shown on the tests. In addition to the bilateral mastectomy, Lynn had to have twenty-two lymph nodes removed.
But that wasn’t the end.
Lynn had to undergo harsh chemotherapy treatments in order to further eradicate any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of them returning. She was aware that hair loss was a potential side effect, but she desperately wanted to still have hair on April 19th, the day of her 34th birthday.
Lynn’s first treatment was on April 1st. By mid-April, Lynn’s inevitable hair loss was evident. So the day after her birthday, on April 20th, she shaved her head. Lynn shares that the loss of her hair was one of the hardest parts of the entire ordeal. However, in a loving show of solidarity, her husband also shaved his head.
The support of her family and friends helped Lynn get through these difficult times, yet there was still more that Lynn had to go through.
To be continued…
As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, we know that raising awareness never stops. According to the CDC, "breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women overall and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women... About 42,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer. Black women have a higher rate of death from breast cancer than all other women." (www.cdc.gov). We urge you to regularly conduct self breast examinations. Know the symptoms of breast cancer, and visit your doctor if you have questions or concerns.