Wendy McCoole's Breast Cancer Survivor Story - Changing Seacoast Lives - Portsmouth Reg Hospital

Wendy McCoole's Breast Cancer Survivor Story – Changing Seacoast Lives – Portsmouth Reg Hospital



my name is wendy mccool and I'm 49 years old and I live in Eliot Maine with my wonderful husband Kevin I say my husband is wonderful because we got married seven years ago and i was diagnosed with breast cancer two months after we got married so our whole first you know honeymoon was really spent with me going through treatment I live an extremely busy yet very full and very satisfying life I run a nonprofit organization helping breast cancer patients and the greater seacoast area when I'm not doing that my hobby or my way of life as I prefer to call it is barbershop singing I direct a woman's barber shop a cappella chorus in Portsmouth that's my therapy I have two beautiful children my daughter Brittany is 25 and engaged my son Ryan is 23 I have two stepchildren Sean and Erin we have a dog Bailey she's a beautiful four-year-old wheaten terrier I decided right at the very beginning that I was just gonna remain as positive as I could and really just embrace this new normal that I was about to come to I was 42 years old interestingly enough it was the same age my mother was diagnosed she's a three-time breast-cancer survivor and she was 42 I called my mom and I could just hear I get choked up even thinking about it I could just hear the sadness in her voice and she really thought she gave it to me so I actually found the lump on my own I had a mammogram and an ultrasound all the while people really just didn't think that the shape of it looked cancerous and then I went to see my surgeon dr. Ken's because of her family history and because this palpable mass was worrisome we set her up for a biopsy this is a call an excisional biopsy where we took all the tissue out to have it analyzed unfortunately when the pathology report came back it came back positive for infiltrating ductal carcinoma or breast cancer he was wonderful he just so compassionate so kind so caring and giving and he actually cleared off his schedule for the rest of the afternoon within a couple of days after we had met and decided that I was going to have a complete lumpectomy I was back in surgery we have done an excisional biopsy showing invasive carcinoma so everybody agree with what we're about to do ok let's go ahead then thank you when we do a breast lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy it is a matter of the patient being asleep under general anesthesia in the hospital it's a procedure that takes about an hour to an hour and a half while they're asleep we take a significant portion of the breast usually about a fifth or a fourth of the breast tissue surrounding the breast cancer and after we've done that we do hand it off to pathologist to have it analyzed over the next day or two to make sure we've surrounded the cancer I really felt calm they really helped to ease any anxieties that I might have had about going to the surgery just a really good demeanor among the nursing and the list of staff that we were part of the surgeries that I had dr. poulin at that port psychology center was my oncologist and when we we met to talk about what I was going to be receiving for treatment we determined that I was going to have six rounds of treatment of chemo once every three weeks any young woman who comes in with a diagnosis of breast cancer is in the state of panic to start with the first reassure them that there's going to be light at the end of the tunnel we talked about the fact that she is going to get chemotherapy for a period of time but that is a short period of time relative to the rest of her life time in it and we now have set up a nurse navigator system where we have one of our oncology nurses actually helping women through that process as soon as their diagnosis is made going into my first chemo treatment I was afraid of getting sick I was just the last thing I want to do is put something in you that's gonna make you feel sick on purpose but they were wonderful at my chemo nurse was just amazing what I went through my treatment I kept an online journal and called it bald Wendy I'm it was just such an easier way to keep my barbershop friends my family relatives everybody updated on how i was doing without having to repeat myself all the time I started to get messages from people that I didn't know and they were they were patients that had just been diagnosed and they were thanking me for sharing my story because it helped them to not feel alone I decided to create a nonprofit called breast cancer stories org it's just a wonderful support tool to help people to be able to share and connect my heart has never been so full I would never I wouldn't be here right now I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing I wouldn't be as positive of a person as I am had I not gone through that whole life changing situation when I finished my treatment I I was a little sad I finding my new normal was a challenge but I just didn't want to I wanted to kind of bring him home with me that's what it could take care of me here because they were so caring and giving and nurturing it was wonderful you

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