Relocating from Tampa to Colorado Springs involves a tangible adjustment for anyone. Adapting to a new community and suddenly being diagnosed with breast cancer is frightening.
Elaine Meyer had only been living in Colorado Springs nine months when in July 2012 a routine mammogram detected invasive ductal carcinoma. Doctors spotted a tiny lump during the mammogram and sent Meyer for an ultrasound during the same visit.
“The ultrasound showed something was there, but I needed to return the next day for a biopsy,” she said. “The doctors said the results would take a couple days and then my primary doctor would give me a call.”
The biopsy was on Friday and on Monday morning Meyer got a call from her doctor. “They asked me to come in first thing the next day,” she said.
Believing they caught the cancer very early, doctors were shocked to discover how far her cancer had progressed. “Everyone was very surprised to learn I was already stage 1,” said Meyer.
Subsequently, along with a lumpectomy and lymph node dissection, Meyer would also suffer four rounds of chemo and 30 rounds of radiation.
“For some reason, my body had a strong reaction to the final round of chemo,” she said. “Aside from the nausea and constant fatigue, my body swelled up a lot.” The chemo also caused Myer to suffer from neuropathy, a symptom that can cause tingling, burning or pins-and-needles sensations in hands, ankles and feet.
With no family here, Meyer was especially grateful to the folks at both Rocky Mountain Cancer Center and Penrose-St. Francis Hospital for providing profound support and excellent care. “I can’t say enough wonderful things about them,” she said. “They got me through it.”
“When you’re in the middle of it, you can’t imagine you’ll ever get through it,” Meyer said. “I really relied heavily on their support.”
Along with the professional care-givers, Meyer developed friendships with other survivors who were always on hand to provide invaluable encouragement, understanding and mentoring. “It’s a sorority you never want to join, but one with a kindred sisterhood.”
With a renewed appreciation of life, Meyer and her husband recently celebrated a “delayed” fifth wedding anniversary on an Alaskan cruise, and her husband donated a 19-inch ponytail to Locks for Love.