Celebrating the Big 3-0 With Breast Cancer
By: Ronit Brakha of Memphis, Tennessee, Sharsheret Peer Supporter
November 7, 1998 started out as a very regular Shabbat and ended up being a day my family and I will never forget. I was getting dressed for synagogue when my thumb bumped into something hard on my breast. I ignored it and went on with my day. Later that afternoon, I checked again, and yes, the lump was still there. At that point I told my husband who said he also felt it. Monday took forever to arrive. I made an appointment with the first available doctor in my OB-GYN practice. That doctor said it was probably nothing, to try eliminating chocolate and caffeine from my diet and come back in a month. I was a few weeks shy of my 30th birthday, which is probably why he thought it was reasonable to assume that it was nothing. I made my appointment for the following month and went home. However, somewhere deep in my gut I didn’t feel right. I never had cysts and it didn’t make sense to me that I would suddenly have one. I called back the next day and got an appointment with my regular doctor. I saw her on Wednesday and she sent me for a mammogram, which came back suspicious on Thursday. I saw a surgeon on Friday and was scheduled for a lumpectomy that Monday.
It was then that I took a deep breath and reached out to the wonderful friends and doctors in my community. I spoke to a friend of ours who is a radiologist and he took a look at my mammogram scans and told me that there was more there than just the one lump. He spoke with a colleague of his, who opened her clinic for me on a Sunday, did several ultrasound pictures, and gave me a hand-written report. She wouldn’t take any money or insurance information. She told me to just go and get better. The next step was an appointment with a surgeon who did a needle biopsy on three different places on my breast. All three came back positive for cancer. On the Friday before my 30th birthday I met with the surgeon who determined that the best course of action would be a modified radical mastectomy. My one request was to get through my birthday first. So my surgery was scheduled for the Thursday after my 30th birthday.
When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know what to do or think or even feel. I was a young wife and mother. I had three beautiful children ages 1, 3, and 5. They needed their mother. What could I do? Where could I turn? I put my name on our community’s prayer list. I am the only Ronit in our city, so everyone in the community knew I was sick. That was the best thing I could have done for myself. Reaching out gave me the support and love that my family and I needed to get through this difficult time. I am thrilled to be part of Sharsheret’s national network of peer supporters and provide much-needed support to other young women facing a breast cancer diagnosis.