To finish off Breast Cancer Awareness month, we have another survivor story. Please read about another battle and amazing story of overcoming adversity.
It’s Not a Roadblock!
by Lydia Murawski
It has now been 2 ½ years since getting a call that changed me. Honestly, I never imagined I would face a breast cancer diagnosis. You see, there is no history of breast cancer in my family. I am the first. I remember that call like it was yesterday. Myself, along with my department, were all in a meeting. During the call, I asked him to hold on while I got something to write with because I know how these things can go, complete blank of the entire conversation. After getting done, I motioned for one team member to get our boss. I completely broke down telling her. She was kind enough to get me home so I could process.
I have an amazing group of close friends who I’ve supported over the years who are breast cancer survivors. We have done numerous fundraisers and walked hundreds of miles to help fight for a cure. Talk about blessed! I was able to reach out almost immediately and get guidance from them. From my note taking I was able to share all I knew – Ductal and Lobular, Nuclear Grade 2 in several cores, involving lobules in my left breast. I always thought if it did ever happen to me a double mastectomy would be my choice. I had come face to face with this decision. Having a 14-year-old to raise, I knew I wouldn’t want him to have to see me go through any treatments. Because of catching it early, I had this choice. September 27, 2018 was my first of 5 surgeries to remove my breasts and reconstruct them.
I remember looking in the mirror after the double mastectomy. I’m not going to lie – it was tough to see. I was forever going to be changed. There were many times I cried over the entire situation. Early on I knew I had to look for every positive there was to be found because I didn’t want to lose myself in this process. I wanted to embrace this and be able to help others as I had for years. For me this included a trip to a local tattoo artist who listened to the type of design I wanted for my pink ribbon as well as a 2nd smaller tattoo to remind me of a story I heard to always “Bee about it” Live your best life if you will – represent who YOU truly are – ALWAYS!
January 29, 2019, my reconstruction surgeries begin. I was blessed to have an amazing plastic surgeon who was one of the first doctors mastering the Diep Flap as well as Pap Flap. My own stomach and inner/rear thigh tissue were used to make my breasts. Again, trying to be positive, I had to make jokes, “Hey, a tummy tuck, thigh tuck and new 20-year-old perky boobs, can’t knock it!” Wow, was I wrong!!!! It was a hard recovery for me. Before I left the hospital, my thigh incisions opened. This led to 8 weeks in a recliner, unable to really sit. I had to have a huge pillow to elevate my legs so the wounds wouldn’t touch anything. Wet to dry packing numerous times a day. Even at 8 weeks they were not completely healed. Revision surgeries followed, making sure I could look as close to 100% normal in the end, May 2019, August 2019 and the final December 2019. Followed by tattoos in March and May 2020 for the color of my nipples. Due to the COVID craziness, I had to postpone my last appointment with the plastic surgeon until August 2020, which was just a final look and pictures.
Prior to the last appointment I was still feeling so tired. I decided to go to my general doctor to get a checkup. Come to find out I now have Hashimoto’s Disease and Sjogren’s Disease, both triggered by the trauma my body went through. Hopefully these two issues will be under control soon. Again, I will win this fight! No matter how hard it may be some days. I have a major goal to achieve and that’s to run again. Even if it’s only a 5k and no more longer runs – I WILL DO IT!
During this span of time I feel like I have been so blessed! Surrounded by amazing friends!! It has always been hard for me to ask for help. I learned to accept help and be grateful. I have been able to give back to those in need and be supportive to everyone who may need it. Just because!!!! This is always how I’ve tried to live, and I am never going to let this Speedbump change me; you see it’s a Speedbump, NOT a roadblock.
You can follow Lydia on Facebook and see what she's up to these days.