The Dreaded Diagnosis—Breast Cancer

by Debbie Twomey on March 14, 2017



 On March 2nd of 2017 I was diagnosed with invasive, moderately differentiated ductal carcinoma. Breast cancer—me! This is a sorority I never wanted to become a part of and certainly would have chosen to avoid. But when it comes to cancer of any kind, it is not always up to us. We can do all the right things and still have the wrong results. Many of us practiced preventative care (though for me it was much later in life) by eating healthy and exercising and avoiding toxins like smoking and drinking and still, we can have a health crisis.

The journey to this diagnosis has been wrought with several other health calamities. It started 5 years ago when my Rheumatoid arthritis worsened. It certainly hurt my joints and in 2011 I had a thumb joint replacement as a result. I began a health regime through my neighbor and dear friend Mary Starr Carter ( using Young Living oils and trying to improve my unhealthy eating habits. I will admit I am not religious about it and my drug of choice has always been sugar which has a very detrimental effect on me. But, I was taking small steps towards healthier eating.


Over the next 5 years despite my efforts the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) worsened. What I was unaware of is that this autoimmune disease also attacks tissue and in my case that is my heart and lungs. In the last few years I have had pneumonia 5 times, the last resulting in BOOP (a reorganizing pneumonia that left my lungs with glass opacity and resulted in Pulmonary Fibrosis). In 2016 while recovering from a 2 week hospital stay where I had congestive heart failure and a lung biopsy, my right hip also gave out (end stage degeneration).

I thought this was all bad enough to deal with, I truly did. God was testing my strength and I was rising to the occasion, or so I thought. Nope, I will spare you the gory details of my painful summer but that got me another endoscopy and colonoscopy in hopes of finding why I was in so much pain. I found out and unfortunately I also contacted MRSA during one of these procedures because my RA infusion’s terrible side effects are lowered immunity when I already have an autoimmune system disease. I made the decision to get these infusions not so much because of the joint pain but because of the destruction of my tissue. This disease progresses—period. I was hospitalized New Year’s Eve with cellulitis that had to be surgically released and it was very traumatic and painful.

So, I thought, well this has been more than enough for one woman right? Wrong! A few weeks ago while lifting my youngest granddaughter, Leah; I noticed a sharp pain in my right breast. I had had it for awhile but attributed it to the RA and severed muscle I got with my wonderful lung biopsy. But as I felt my breast I could not miss the large lump. How had I missed it before? I immediately went to my doctor thinking it was another cellulitis outbreak.  He sent me for the mammogram. From there things progressed quite fast and within 3 weeks I received my diagnosis and am set up for a lumpectomy on March 24th. The only reason I have to wait that long is because I have another outbreak of MRSA and they need it not to be active to operate.

So ask me how I felt when she told me it was cancer? Kind of numb but I already knew in my heart that it was cancer. My sister Karen held out hope because I was having so much pain in my breast and most breast cancers are not very painful before treatments (because so many cancers wrap around the nerves blocking the pain messages). Not me, oh no, pain and cancer, a double insult.

I was pretty calm at the doctors,”just the facts ma’am.” But when I got in my car, I was yelling at God asking how much more did He really think I could tolerate? Apparently more. I yelled all the way home and then shared with my sisters before I told my friends. I calmed quickly and started reading my newest reading material, Breast Cancer, treatment handbook. Not light reading and certainly not for the faint of heart.              book1                                                      

So what next? It is not like I can run from this or just make it disappear. I have to face it head on as I do most things in my life. I go to sleep and sometimes my last thought is “I have cancer in me.” But the truth is we all do and it may never manifest itself. And I had cancer the day before the official diagnosis and probably for a very long time. My blood tests had been indicating trouble with my white blood cell count but when you are fighting so many infections, you attribute it to that.  

Now I am aware of its presence so how am I going to react? Well I am going to be proactive of course. I am a realist. I need to know the details and the options and then I go home and chew on them for awhile before I make any decisions.

I have chosen a course of having a lumpectomy because though the tumor is quite large so are my boobs (which I never really liked and actually went for a reduction and was denied by my insurance company at the time). My doctor is quite confident that months down the road in my recovery and after I have the bariatric surgery I have been trying to get prior to all this unhealthy nonsense, I can have my breasts reduced and it will be covered by my insurance (Trump care better not interfere with that process).

But first, I have to get through the lumpectomy and 33 radiation treatments along with the oral chemotherapy. And all that hinges on if there are no lymph nodes involved. I am gearing up for this battle as best I can but I would feel so much better if I had fewer roadblocks like the MRSA or Pulmonary Fibrosis. It hinders my treatment in many ways. I was also diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes but I do not believe I have it, I think it was a result of the heavy duty steroids I had to be on during my bout with BOOP (I just love that word sounds like fun for a very difficult illness). Yesterday I had new blood tests in the hope that they can eliminate Diabetes from my medical records and I can stop all the poking and prodding. I just want one small positive step towards health and happiness. A get out of jail free card if you will.

Since I posted on Facebook about the cancer diagnosis, I have received so many beautiful words of encouragement and so many women sharing their diagnosis which I was unaware of and so appreciate. I am humbled by the thoughts and prayers and I am so grateful to all of you who have shared your cancer with me. I am saddened too, that the number is so high. What is happening in our world that there is so much toxin and our women are in danger? I thought the numbers were decreasing and research was making giant strides towards a cure. I need to study this much more in depth.

For now, I am watching my sugar intake, taking my Young Living supplements and doubling on my antioxidant Ningxia Red. I have added an oil regimen using a mixture Rebekah Jones made for me to help with the tumor. I have to avoid public places for a longer period of time now but I cannot afford any other illnesses, my strength needs to be focused on the cancer. I am not going down without a fight; in fact I am not going down at all. I have many more moments of life, laughter and love left in me. I have a 5 year old Miss Mouse who needs me and who I need to see grow. And I have a new grandbaby, Leah who I do not want to miss in any way. So take this to the bank—Debbie is here to do Battle and to Stay.


Live, laugh and love                                                                                                          BC logo



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Roxanne March 15, 2017 at 11:34 am

I'm glad to see you back writing, but sorry for the reasons. You are an amazing strong women that will beat this. As always you know how to find me if you need anything


Jen Fournier March 15, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Deb you have chosen the right attitude. I had it all-chemo, lumpectomy, and then radiation! It is a lot and it can get you down at times. Try to stay positive and remember how strong you are! You can do this and it looks like you have so many supporters cheering you on! I agree with you that it is amazing how many people share their stories after a diagnosis and how many people have been touched by it. I was amazed myself! Hang in there and rely on the people that are there for you. There are going to be days you need their help and then days you won't. I will be thinking of you and praying for you! Please let me know if I can help in any way! 


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