Darlene Koch's Story In Her Own Words Part 3

When we left off with Darlene's story yesterday she was just about to get her first chemotherapy treatment. Let's continue...

My first treatment went well. It started about 9:30 am and I was not done until 4:15 pm. All the chemo medicine went through my port. The name of the type of cancer I had was Her2 positive and it was in my right breast. In the early 1900's this type of breast cancer was a death sentence as there was no cure. The center was always bright and cheery. I looked forward to my treatments because I always had a good time with my new found friends and we all supported each other. I would always bring something with me to share with everyone when I went for treatments. They never knew what I would bring. Sometimes something to eat. One week all the ladies received one of my handmade bracelets. Most of the time the men would come with their wives so one week I brought them all pink mustaches. Even Dr. Hildreth my chemo doctor wore one too.

One of the ladies I met the first day in the waiting room is named Connie. Connie had cancer in both breasts and each breast had a different type of cancer. I remember on that first day we all knew the chemo would make us very sick. So we questioned the nurse about how sick we would be, what we could expect. She told us it would be like the flu so on the way home from the treatment center I stopped at the store and loaded up with Kleenex. Turns out I didn't need them, it was like the stomach flu. Every third week I would go to chemo, always on a Thursday and I would be sick on the weekend. I would be sick Saturday through Tuesday morning. On Wednesday I would return to work. On the third treatment I started to lose my hair. I continued to make my bracelets as it was my therapy, but I started to lose my fingernails and the tips of my fingers went numb. I was the only one in my treatment group that lost all my nails. They all would want to see my hands. I never once cried over this instead I would laugh about it. I knew everything I lost would come back.

My group was amazing! We all would check on one another to see how our weeks after chemo went. The worst part of cancer was hearing those words "You have cancer". My tumor was so deep in my breast that my doctor could not feel it, but the mammogram found it. The surgery to remove my tumor was in September 2014. The chemo had been successful in getting rid of my cancer. I was in stage 1A which is the very beginning of cancer. The tumor was the size of a small bean. Some of the beads on my bracelets were the size of my tumor. After my surgery I started five weeks of radiation. By the end of November 2014 I was through.

I was now moving on to 2015 and back to my dream of garage sales, making bracelets but most of all helping others through the donations that I raised. I still made over two thousand dollars the year my cancer was found and treated. I gave garage sales the whole month of May plus I made and sold bracelets. I needed help that year with the garage sales. I would become very dizzy getting on the ladder to decorate the ceiling of the carport. I made four thousand and sixty dollars that year in donations which was the most ever!

In 2015 around June I had another surgery to put in breast implants. I didn't want to be big I just wanted to be normal. But in October of 2016 my breasts filled up with liquid and I had to go back into surgery. The radiation had caused scar tissue and it had caused problems with the implant. They removed the scar tissue along with the implant and replaced it with a new implant. Then when I went back in for a check up my breast was red and very warm. I thought this was because of the surgery however the doctor said I had a very bad infection and I went back into the hospital for yet another surgery. If this had gotten into my blood stream I would not be here today. They had to take both implants out and I am well now. The doctor told me I could have the implants replaced in a few years. "NO! No more surgery!.

That is my story. Next I will tell you how I became the 2016 Susan G. Komen Survivor of the Year. That story is next.

Until we meet here again, I pray God bless you and keep your loved ones safe.