Alma Alfred – Survivor

December 21st, 2009

At 48, counting down to my “Big 50th” birthday, my daughter was getting ready to complete her degree at University of Houston and she would soon be on her own. Things were going well and I was enjoying life. I had neck surgery in 2004 and was out for a while. I had foot surgery in 2005. I didn’t get a chance to take a vacation for those 2 years and said to myself that I was not going to have another year of surgery/recovery. I was going to take a seven day vacation to a Caribbean Island.

I had what I thought was a cyst and went for my routine every 6 month Mammogram and Ultra-sound (that I had been doing for the last couple of years) and was told it was a cyst, to keep a watch to see if it changed and come back in another 6 months. I waited another 6 months, went thru the routine again and was told the same thing….it was a cyst, but the size had increased. I did not have a good feeling about the last two diagnoses so I decided not to go to that facility for my next test and to go to MD Anderson (for the first time) to have my Mammogram and Ultra-sound done. I was told about 10 minutes after these test were done that I had a 50-50 chance that I had cancer. I had never been told that there was any percentage of having breast cancer, so that there was a percentage was shocking.

The doctor who read my reports asked if I had a doctor at MD Anderson and I quickly said No….that I never had a reason to have one. He went on to say that there was a 50% chance that it was not cancer but of course I was focusing on the 50% chance that it was cancer. He ased me if he was able to get me an appointment with a doctor in Cancer Prevention Department would I talk to a doctor there. He did and I did. After looking at my test results and what the doctor had written up, she examined me and said that she thought the tumor was larger then he noted and wanted to go speak to him. She came back and said that my percentage was actually approximately 70-30%…..which was another brick wall. She said that we had to wait until we got reports back from the biopsy to confirm that it was 100%. I knew then that it was 100%.

“I had gone to my appointment alone because I was thinking it was a routine mammogram/ ultrasound.”

I was diagnosed with Stage II Lobular Breast Cancer. I was set up with an EXCELLENT team of doctors at MD Anderson. I was scheduled to do 6 months of Chemo to see if the tumor would shrink then do 6 weeks of Radiation. After a month of chemo, my team of doctors and I decided to do surgery then start back on the chemo treatments. During surgery they found out that the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes so several were removed and because it had spread into the lymph nodes it was determined that I was now in “Stage III Advanced Cancer”.

Chemo and Radiation was a “BATTLE” but I made it through with a lot of prayers. I just had to focus on one treatment at a time to get through them all.

“I was very upset, but finally decided that I would trust God that I would have the strength to get my treatments behind me one by one. My Catholic faith was strengthened by my cancer experience. It’s easy to accept God’s will when life/everything is going good but being diagnosed with cancer made me closer to my faith and this “Seasonal” phase of my life.

With God, my family, friends and co-workers and MD Anderson Staff, I have been able to make it thru that “Season” of my life!

I have completed all of my treatments and undergone several surgeries with a possible one more to go. I am currently doing physical therapy for the Lymphadema.

MD Anderson and my team of doctors, therapist, and the patient affairs office have been truly OUTSTANDING!

Many THANKS to Divas For A Cure for their AMAZING contributions to make myself and other cancer patients care at MD Anderson gratifying and successful!!

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