My Story by Danielle Harmon
I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer on Sept 11, 1998. I was 31 and enjoying my new role as Mom to 14-month-old Sam. The pregnancy was very difficult and every day we were counting our blessings.
Days earlier at my routine well woman visit, the nurse practitioner indicated some abnormalities in my exam. “Nothing to worry about but let’s get it double checked,” she said. Now here I was a week later sitting in the Doctor’s office as he explained the white dots on the x-ray were cancer. We were shell shocked. Never did we think the Doctor would give us that news. He ordered a needle biopsy and it was confirmed stage 2 breast cancer.
I remember thinking, how will Sam grow up without a Mom and how was my husband Jason going to deal with being a single Dad? I think when you first hear the news you have cancer you automatically assume it’s a death sentence. For me, not only was it not a death sentence but a blessing in disguise.
Once we became resigned to the fact I had cancer, Jason and I set out to learn and research as much as we could. We felt the need to become empowered. I think at the time we were in a panic grasping for something that would make it all go away.
One day while I was at home alone with Sam, a feeling that everything was going to be OK washed over me. I knew I had a tough road ahead with 6 rounds of chemo and several surgeries. I guess you could say God was speaking to me or an inner strength but I knew I was going to get through it.
We knew we wanted the best possible care and once again were blessed to learn the best care in the world was local to us at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Fear and the unknown made our first visit to MD Anderson very overwhelming. I quickly learned that while there were numerous patients from all over the world, the staff at MD Anderson made me feel like an individual. On several occasions my white blood cell count was slow to rebuild to tolerable levels before proceeding to my next round of chemotherapy. The staff worked hard to make challenging delays tolerable.
A year later, after 5 surgeries and 6 rounds of chemotherapy, the Doctors indicated that I was cancer free and could begin medication to further reduce the risk of a relapse. While we were disappointed – this meant the possibility of having more children was unlikely – we were optimistic in our future and thankful for our time together.
A few short months later, as we were still adjusting to a cancer free life, the opportunity to adopt a beautiful baby girl literally fell into our lives. It’s difficult to understand powers greater than ourselves. Without proper care and support it’s hard to image how things may have turned out. I’m thankful for my blessings, care, and support I received. I’m thankful for the opportunity to raise that little girl, her brother, and the life I have with my husband. Without MD Anderson it may have not been possible.
Note: Danielle is married to Jason Harmon, Eastern Region Manager for Jason’s Deli