My name is Rosa Pope, I am the mother of six daughters and I have been married for 29 years to a wonderful man. We are a military family (my husband is now retired AF) and 4 of my daughters were also AF. I have traveled a lot and had many doctors but I never had a mammogram! I just never thought it would happen to me, plus the doctors never insisted when I said I “didn’t want one”.
We lived in Portugal and upon returning to our home in Colorado my husband and I decided due to other factors that we were ready for warmer weather. We were taking a leap and after many discussions, my husband had decided to change jobs. He would however do one last assignment to France, which would be a little over 30 days. I would stay and handle all the house showings and packed out the house. Our house sold much faster than anyone expected, and now we really had to get out. After a week of packing I received a call that my father was ill, so, I took off to the Panhandle straight to the hospital. While driving back to Colorado I felt a lot of strain on my left arm and had to drive back with one hand. I kept telling myself I needed to go see my primary doctor as soon as I returned. I made my appointment and my doctor wanted to do a breast exam. I stated “ It’s not my breast, I think I pulled a muscle from packing ,“ but she did the exam. She then pleaded with me to go get the mammogram. She knew how I felt and that I had never had one done, but I finally said,”okay. “
I went to get the mammogram and at this time I was not worried nor was I concerned. I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. I arrived and was directed into a different area where I now found myself sitting in a room full of ladies all dressed in white and blue gowns. I also changed and joined the ladies (now dressed in the same color gown). I had placed all my things in the locker, including my phone. That was my first mistake! My husband always calls to see how I am doing and because I had locked my phone he started to call my daughters…than they all were calling my phone, unbeknownst to me.
My mammogram went okay, so I thought, but I was asked to please sit and wait in a different area. I was advised that I would now be given a sonogram, still not worried. The doctor introduced himself and stated I would need a biopsy. I think I was more concerned of upsetting my husband who was so far away. I requested they schedule the biopsy ASAP . I did tell my daughters that everything was okay and that I would be getting a biopsy. My daughters panicked and were pressing their father to get back fast, also unbeknownst to me. I was still not worried. I had my biopsy and 6 specimens were taken. I recall going to see my primary doctor where she sat very close to me and held my hand. She proceeded to inform me that I had cancer. Without blinking, I thanked her and walked out. Two days later I did return, this time with questions and at this point it became a reality. I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma stage 2 , My doctor cared enough to insist on the mammogram that probably saved my life. She proceeded to tell me what was ahead for us. I say us, because if you have a family, it effects everyone.
To my two surprise, two of my cousins drove to Colorado to comfort me and be by my side. One day I answered a knock on the door and it was my husband. He had come home early and was full of questions, which I didn’t have answers to. I started to receive many calls and soon realized we had so many appointments in store for us. I have always said someone should hand out appointment calendars when given a cancer diagnosis! By this time, we had moved from our home and were living in a hotel. My surgeon was wonderful, as were the nurse navigator and the many, many medical personnel that we encountered. I had elected to have a double mastectomy, but because we were now displaced and pending to leave for Texas, I ended up having a lumpectomy. I recovered in the hotel and the we headed to Texas. In Texas, I was lost I knew no one, and didn’t know where to start. I found my oncologist, who started the ball rolling again. I had 36 weeks straight of radiation. On my first day, while sitting in the waiting room to receive radiation, I started to cry, I wished my mother was with me, but my mother was no longer with us. The following day a very nice lady approached me and gave me a card with her name and number, plus the number for the Cancer Support Community, which was located right up the street from me. I called and was received with welcome arms. I was able to attend my Wellness support group right away, which has become a life saver for me on so many platforms. I learned a lot through the group meetings and volunteers/presenters that come to provide information on so many levels. This is where I was able to find a surgeon and now feel that a number of my questions have been answered. I must say, that this part of our life is not over yet, but without Cynthia Cervantes and Stacy Birst-Yates, and the support and compassion they provided, along with all the extras, I, myself, would be lost. I was fortunate. I wish more advertising was provided. God bless these angles that will always hold a part of my heart. The Future holds for me a double mastectomy, but with these ladies on my side and so many new friends, I will prevail.
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