Breast Cancer Awareness Month is over, but that doesn’t mean that we stop showing support and acknowledging our strong and beautiful survivors. I am so pleased to feature Ms. Tracee Allen, as this week’s Sister With Vision. Her interview was so informative and helpful and I believe that anyone dealing with Breast Cancer or has had to have a double mastectomy and undergo the reconstruction process to please take a look and share this post. Also, please be sure to check out and donate to her gofundme page. Any amount would help. Without further adieu, I introduce to you this black queen full of strength, Tracee Allen.
Tell me a little about yourself.
My name is Tracee Allen. I am 41 years old and I’m originally from Indianapolis but l currently live in Bloomington, IN. I am a divorced mother of an 11 year old boy in the 6th grade. My profession is a Commercial Liability Claims Adjuster for trucking companies. I like to travel and spend time with my family.
Please share your story. How did you first find out that you had breast cancer? What stage are you in (if not in remission) and what treatments have you undergone?
I was already on annual mammograms since 2011 after I had a benign cyst biopsied in my left breast. In July 2014, my doctor said he saw some “suspicious” calcifications he’d like to monitor, but said he wasn’t concerned. He said it would be up to me to choose to biopsy them then, or wait 6 months for another mammogram. Since I had a horrible experience with the biopsy in 2011, I chose to wait. In December 2014, I started experiencing pain in my left breast, but the doctor refused to do my mammogram until the 6 month mark which was February 2015, even though I was able to get a prescription for a bilateral mammogram from my OB/GYN. When I went back in February, they only wanted to scan the right breast until I basically “threw a fit” to do the left too. As long as your insurance will cover a procedure, fight for it! They did the left and nothing was found, but they did find cancer in a milk duct in my right breast. This is considered Stage 0 – Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). The next stage was an MRI which revealed a tumor at the 6 o’clock position of my breast and in my lymph node. This upgraded me to Stage 2A.
Since my 2 areas of cancer were too far apart, the recommendation was a mastectomy. I wasn’t prepared to make surgery decisions yet. Since the doctor said that having chemo before or after surgery would not make a difference in survivability, I chose to do chemo first. I also have Lupus which complicated my surgery, reconstruction and possible radiation decisions. I did 2 rounds of chemo over 5 months and I think I handled it well. I discovered that you have to eat and keep your naps short to prevent vomiting. Food is needed to soak up that chemo in your system. I also took my anti-nausea medicine on time. I felt like crap, but I never vomited.
Physically, I chose to cut my long hair before chemo into a short cut. I never had a short hairstyle before so I felt that I might as well have fun for the 2 weeks they gave me when my hair was expected to fall out.
It happened at exactly 2 weeks and I had my aunt buzz cut my hair. I was afraid of getting a cut in my head if I went completely bald. Any cuts or injury after chemo may take longer to heal or lead to infection. It was less traumatic losing little pieces of hair than long stands. I tried and hated wigs so I found a scarf style that I wear all the time. My pathology report showed that all the cancer was removed so I’m overjoyed to be done with cancer treatment but the reconstruction process is very uncomfortable and painful. And thank God I got a double mastectomy because there were “changes” in my left breast that would have led to cancer later.
The Reconstruction Process…..
I’m divorced and have hopes of getting remarried so having breast were important to me. Everyone gave me the speech that a man that truly wanted me, wouldn’t care if I had breast. I’m not confident enough to believe that. Since I wouldn’t know if radiation would be recommended until my pathology came back, I was taking a chance on starting the reconstruction process after the double mastectomy. I chose a double mastectomy because i was worried about the left breast pain before and possible reoccurance in the left. Plus i didn’t want 1 perky right breast and 1 saggy left breast. .lol! I trusted my faith and moved forward with the reconstruction. After the breast surgeon is done, the plastic surgeon comes in and inserts temporary expanders. Currently, I have weekly appointment with the plastic surgeon to inject saline into the expanders until I get to my desired C-cup size . In a couple of months, I will have another surgery to get my permanent implants. Then a few months after that, if I decide, I will get nipples created from my own skin. Soon after those heal, that nipples will have to be tattooed to match my skin tone. So yes, I’m very happy that my cancer treatment is over but the reconstruction process is very uncomfortable and painful. It takes several months to complete.
What advice would you give women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer?
My advice to others is to get a second opinion, try to have someone with you at all your appointments, tape record the consultations with your doctor and keep educating yourself. My brain was about to explode with everything I had to learn and all the decisions I had to make by myself. Fight for the treatment and diagnostic tests you want if you have the insurance coverage. Also, if women or men have breast cancer in their family history, get a mammogram as early as possible. I didn’t have any history and my genetics test was negative; so thank God I was already on routine exams!
IG & Twitter: @gillty98
fundraising campaign for Tracee Allen’s Breast Cancer Fight: