Shredderz Skate Shop in Decatur, TX has always been a huge supporter of the Keep A Breast foundation as breast cancer is a cause near and dear to the owner, JP. See the story P.J.'s mom shared with us of her personal journey with breast cancer.
In July of 2009, I felt an achy lump on the outer side of my right breast. I had always heard that cancer doesn’t hurt, so I wrote it off as a pulled muscle. About a month later, I realized the lump had doubled in size.
It was Monday, August 17th, 2009—the day before Phil and I’s 30th Anniversary—that I heard “We got your biopsy test back, (pause) and it’s not good.” Shock, disbelief, panic, and fear took over. The doctor was speaking to someone behind me, right?
I called Phil when I got to the car. Once home, I told our children, April, Joan, and PJ, one by one. As you can imagine, this was devastating.
My brother Wyche offered to call my mother and sister. His reasoning was that he could absorb their initial reactions for me, and I agreed. I chose to wait until after hearing my treatment plan before telling my Daddy. This conversation was going to be very hard, as I am a huge Daddy’s girl and my father was enduring the last stages of Parkinson’s disease. I told him I was ready for the fight. As I looked in his eyes, I knew it would all be okay.
On Monday, August 24th, we were told the facts. I had stage III invasive ductal carcinoma. My tumor had spread into more than one lymph node. I was among the 20% of breast cancer patients that are triple negative for hormone receptors, which meant no “easy” treatments. The doctor recommended chemo to shrink the tumor before a mastectomy. I had already decided that I wanted to have both breasts taken, just to avoid putting put my family through it twice.
Then, just as I felt ready for the fight, I discovered my insurance did not cover chemo!!! What? How is that possible?!! (Double-check your health coverage!) My fight was gone at that point. Then a PET scan showed the cancer had not spread further, and I got a little fight back.
I also found out about the Blue Cross Blue Shield High Risk Pool, for those with inadequate insurance. I filled out the paperwork that night.
On September 4th, we found out I would have eight rounds of chemo over fourteen weeks, and six weeks of radiation after the mastectomy. Nineteen days later, I got the call from Blue Cross Blue Shield confirming my coverage! I was again ready for my fight!
I was very fortunate during my chemo treatments. My loving husband and children took on many of my responsibilities. My son PJ was also opening his own business, an indoor skatepark called Shredderz Skate and Sport. PJ has since become an advocate for breast cancer awareness, holding several Keep A Breast benefits events a year at Shredderz.
My last chemo was on January 5th, 2010. Meeting others on this journey had made it very evident that this is not a disease that only happens to older women!
On February 5th, 2010, I had both breasts removed. In a sense you mourn the loss, although this will only make sense to anyone who has gone through it. The bright light was April telling me the day before my surgery that she was pregnant!
Radiation was full of emotional ups and downs. I struggled with a terrible burn that halted treatment, but our precious Abigail was born on June 21st. On July 1st my precious Daddy took his journey to heaven. My final radiation treatment was July 13th, 2010.
On January 4th, 2011, I chose to have DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery, a process completed in April.
The journey now over, a couple things are very clear. First, your cancer is your cancer, and nobody can tell you how to feel or what to do. Second, ladies, get your annual mammograms, because early detection is vital for survival.
My name is Nancy Reicheneker, I am 52 years old, and I am proud to say I’m a survivor!