“You saved my life!”
by Priscilla Miller
Somehow, in spite of the dark fear now dwelling within her soul, this mother of twelve year old twin daughters and a fourteen year old son, managed to keep up a brave front and make Christmas happy for her children. In January results from a digital mammogram and ultrasound, revealed a suspicious lump in Susie’s left breast and indicated the need for a biopsy. Susie didn’t know what to do, or where to turn. She felt alone and frightened. She says, I didn’t know anyone here and I had no insurance. I was angry and asked, why me?
She remembered seeing an Antrim County High Tea for Breast Cancer Prevention flyer at a local store. ACHT is an all volunteer, 501 C3 organization that provides free mammograms to uninsured and under insured residents of Antrim County and partners with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.
Susie went to the store, copied the number off of the flyer and in desperation made the call. With that one call, she was assured, everything would be taken care of and in no time at all, arrangements for Susie to have her biopsy were made. The results of that biopsy confirmed Susie’s greatest fears. She had breast cancer! An ACHT registered nurse helped allay some of those fears with a visit to Susie’s home. She answered any questions that Susie and her children had at that time and reassured them that she was only a phone call away.
In February, Susie underwent a complete mastectomy and biopsies of two lymph nodes revealed,one was cancerous. Three weeks later the remaining lymph nodes were also removed. Fortunately the biopsy results on these were negative.
Susie experienced periods of depression and fatigue but there were moments of laughter as well. Like the time one of her daughters asked, Is your breast going to be donated to charity? Another time one of them wondered why her mother didn’t walk lopsided after having the mastectomy?
Three months of traveling to Traverse City for chemotherapy treatments followed. ACHT helped defray the cost of these trips by providing Susie with gas cards. When chemo caused her hair to fall out Susie used a scarf to cover her head. Then, ACHT provided her with two beautiful wigs. The first time she wore one of the wigs, she went to pick up her daughters after school. One of her girls ran up to the car, opened the door and just as she was about to hop in, stopped dead in her tracks and not recognizing Susie with hair, exclaimed, Oh, I’m sorry! I thought you were my mother!
Today, Susie is in remission and says, I appreciate all the little things in life that I used to take for granted and I spend more time with my children now. She has a message for anyone who has volunteered their time or contributed to the Antrim County High Tea for Breast Cancer Prevention. She says, I felt sad and lonely but you came to me and my family with love, support, visits, cards, flowers and food galore! You saved my life and took care of my financial worries. God Bless each of you, and thank you.