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The Road Less Traveled by Natalie Unga

October 9, 2009


What is Breast Cancer?

I sat and relaxed on the warm Hukilau beach thinking of home and how great it will be to take a break and see my family for Christmas. Little did I know that this trip home would be nothing short of a break. My life that I had created in Hawaii would soon be stripped out of my hands. This life consisted of one semester left in school, a position as the Vice President of Clubs and Organizations and believe it or not a respective prospect for marriage. I was ready to graduate and find my place in this world. I should have known that things were just too good.


In Hawaii on December 8, 2003, the day of my 25th birthday, I found a round lump in my breast and became somewhat alarmed of my discovery. I called my doctor and he scheduled my appointment. The day after I arrived home I found myself in the hospital waiting room. The events that unfolded that morning in the hospital are forever etched in my memory. The surgeon told me he was a little alarmed by that he was 98% sure it was a fibro-adenoma. Yet it is what he said next that I will never forget. He said, “But if you were my daughter I would want to be 100% sure.” I had not had a mammogram or any other tests, but one hour later I had a needle point biopsy; a test that cannot lie.

The next few days to follow seemed to be slow, and my mind did wonder as I pondered the possibilities. Yet I had found comfort from the 98% surety I had received at the hospital and also later that day from my own doctor who checked it for me.  I was obviously the least of candidates for breast cancer since I was 25 years old and there was not family history on either side of my family. I also led a very healthy life style which furthered my chances of this tumor being nothing more than fibrous tissue.

On December 26, 2003, my family gathered at our house and we were all sharing in the fun of the holidays. I nervously picked up the phone and walked upstairs to a quiet place. The doctor who picked up the line sounded somewhat subdued and this is when my stomach tied up in knots. I wasked for the outcome and apologetically, he said, “I am so sorry your tumor is malignant. You have breast cancer.” I choked up, walked down the staires and with tears streaming down my face announced to my family, “I have breast cancer; I have breast cancer. WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?” It was that moment that started my journey. One moment and one phone call changed my plans and changed my life. But it didn’t change who I was.

To be continued…

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