arizona, avondale, breast cancer, cancer, cancer sucks, chandler, El Paso, gilbert, glendale, goodyear, litchfield park, palm valley, peoria, Pet Scan, phoenix, photographers, photojournalistic, professional, scottsdale, surprise, survivor, tempe, texas
Meet Colleen! This woman is beyond amazing! Single mother of 4 and she talked beautifully about her kids! She is a proud mother and I could tell by the little time I spent with her, her kiddos are her pride and joy!
I remember her mentioning during the shoot that she hated wearing wigs! Her father bought her a very expensive wig and she didn’t like wearing them because they are so uncomfortable and make you sweat. But she decided to wear one just to see how it looked 🙂 We were able to take a few shots with just her bandana, that she wears most of the time 🙂 Please scroll down to read Colleen’s story!
Make up by Adriana Garcia
Hair by TheBoyz DoHair
Here is Colleen’s story:
When I first found out that I had Cancer I cried (like we all do). The first thing that popped into my head was “Oh NO what about my kids” I am a single Mom with 4 kids, I can’t have Cancer. The very second thing was “Oh God what have I passed onto my kids” I am defective with this cancer and now I have passed this horrible disease on to my 4 babies. So immediately asked was there a way to know if I had passed this onto my kids. There was a test to see if you carried the gene and thank God I did not have the gene. I then thought “Oh my gosh what is my boyfriend going to think of my breast getting all cut up”. WILL I EVER BE THE SAME!!!
I found out that I had Cancer on October 29, 2008 (my second daughter’s birthday). I went into survival mode and started reading EVERYTHING I could along with my then boyfriend and family. I was immediately rushed from place to place getting tons of test done to see if my body was strong enough to withstand the Chemo. After I was cleared that I was strong enough to have Chemo I had to go into surgery to have a Port put in. Nobody really ever talks about these but I was NOT happy that I had to have the “foreign thing” in my body! The Port is where they administer the Chemo.
So I started Chemo…………..I was told that I had to cut my hair (it was very long) because when it started falling out you did not want to have long pieces of hair all over, you will get mouth sores, you will be sick (tons of other things but I will save everyone from that). I know it sounds silly but this was all very shocking hearing ALL of the things that were going to be happening to you & you body.
I had Chemo for six months every other Monday, each session would last for 6-7 hours, then the next day I would have to go back and get a shot to boost my white blood count, to even get in the car to get this shot was so hard (I had to be driven because I could not drive). After I was done with the Chemo I then had to go and have my Breast removed and also the Lymph Nodes in my left armpit. I requested that they remove both of my breast. While I was having Chemo each week I would hear all these women in the waiting room talking about how they had only had 1 breast removed and now it is in the other side and I knew I did not want to go through this Chemo again. I elected to have reconstruction done at the same time. The surgery was about 8 hours and I was in the hospital about a week due to complications. So about a month’s time goes by and I have to start radiation. I had radiation 5 days a week for two and a half months. This was defiantly way easier than Chemo but you do get very tired and your skin takes a beating. Imagine getting the worst sunburn of your life and then going back out in the sun everyday for two and a half months.
After my Chemo and Radiation was done I was blessed enough to have my boyfriend (he was German) take me to Germany for a month to recovery.
After I was all healed the reconstruction process began (I am still doing it), this has taken a lot longer than I ever imagined, nobody tells you what the Radiation does to your body and how BAD it will affect the outcome of your reconstruction process. I have been through multiply breast surgeries, one of which put me in the hospital where I almost died due to my body going septic from the implant.
So I was just starting to get back into the grove of my life when my doctors office called and said “Colleen you have not had a Pet Scan in a year and a half we need to get you in for one”. I questioned why I would need a Pet Scan when I had both of my Breast & Lymph Nodes; I was told it was just routine. This was February 2011…………….My cell phone rings and I hear my doctors voice (I immediately know this is NOT good) he goes on to tell me that they found a spot on my spine that he is pretty sure is cancer and one on my liver that may be cancer. WHAT I think I can’t have cancer again………..YOU took my breast how the heck would I get cancer AGAIN!!!! I asked him just that and he went on to say that if just 1 cell is left behind that you will get cancer again. He said “Just calm down we need to get a biopsy of the spot on your spine & do another test on your liver” The thought of them doing a biopsy of my spine was NOT a pleasant thought to me, what if they slipped and I was paralyzed. Well I go into the hospital and have the biopsy done. I have to go see the doctor to find out the results, he tells me my liver is fine but I do have cancer again and it is in my spine. I was in shock!!!!!
I said, “You did not tell me what stage I was”.
He said “Well you are stage 4”
I said, “Does this mean I am going to die?”
And he said, “YES……YOU are going to die….you will not die this year (2011) and probably not the next year (2012) but you will defiantly die the following year (2013)”
I was speechless!!!!!!!
Again we all went into survival mode, he wanted me to have Radiation but if I opted for Radiation I would not be able to have surgery. I did NOT want this cancer in my body. So we did some research and found a GREAT doctor at Mayo that removed the tumor but I had to have one of my vertebras removed and a cage put in my back. This was a VERY LONG process. The operation took 10.5 hours and I was in ICU for a week then in the hospital for an additional two weeks then I was transported via ambulance to a rehabilitation hospital where I was there for two more weeks and I still left in a wheelchair. I had to learn how to walk all over again.
Then in a routine Pet Scan (September 2011) they found another spot on my spine. When I went in to get the results of the Pet Scan my doctor said “I do NOT want you to have the operation but to go into a Chemo study” when I asked him “How long I would have to have Chemo for?” he replied “For the rest of your life” I once again went under the knife and had it removed, this was not as bad as the first operation it was only an outpatient procedure. He is no longer my doctor.
I have Pet Scans every three months. So once again during a routine Pet Scan they find 3 tumors in my liver (February 2013) so I discussed my options with my new doctor and she gave me 3 different ways we could treat it. She did strongly recommend Cyber Knife (pin point radiation). So I went and had the Cyber Knife done and after three months I had a follow up MRI and there was no trace of the cancer.
Well during yet another routine Pet Scan (October 2013) the found several 10 to be exact tumors…… 1 in my Femur, 1 in my left Rib, 1 on my spine, 1 on my Iliac Joint & 6 in my liver. Well now I have to have Chemo again, so I have to go into the hospital and have a Port put back in. I had to have the Iliac Joint & Spine tumors treated by Cyber Knife due to the pain and restriction in my mobility. I have to say that Chemo has come a very long ways because this Chemo is not as hard as the first time.
On March 4, 2014 I just got the results of my Pet Scan and EVERYTHING looks GREAT, they did find a spot on my lung that she is going to have the Cyber Knife doctor take a look at and see if he wants to zap it otherwise my doctor says that I can have a break from the Chemo.
So when you tell people that you have had cancer 6 times……………….they say “WOW how do you do that” and my response EVERYTIME IS……………………”HOW DO YOU NOT???”
I have 4 AMAZING children that sill want, need, desire their Mother to be around!!! I WILL NEVER STOP FIGHTING!!
Remember Cancer is what you have….. It is a part of you…… it is NOT the whole YOU…… it does NOT define YOU………it does NOT make YOU……SO GO LIVE YOUR LIFE……..THANKS BE TO GOD!!!!
I would also like to Thank Singleton Mom’s and all the wonderful ladies I have met over the years!! With a big Thanks to Laura & Desiree for putting together the Beautiful YOU Event!!! Xxx ooo