A Family's Breast Cancer Battle
Omaha, NE--While more women survive breast cancer than ever before, it still remains more deadly and aggressive when found in younger women.
Statistics show one in 68 women will get diagnosed before they're 40. Stacey Michaud is one of those women. It first showed up after she had finished nursing her baby, Samantha. At first, she thought nothing of it.
"I noticed a skin discoloration," explained Stacey. It wasn't until she went to the doctor that it started sinking in there was a problem. "Soon as the doctor saw me she sent me to get my first mammogram and an ultrasound."
The mammogram revealed a nearly three inch tumor already spreading to the skin.
"I was a little angry with myself for not noticing that," admits Stacey.
Within a week, the Michaud's peaceful lives transformed into a blur of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. It was a new reality difficult for six year-old son, Ben, to see.
"There was a time when I was in his room reading a book and I broke down. This was right before my surgery and he said, 'Mommy I will take care of you." Stacey recounts how treatment would leave her tired and sick and unable to play and give Ben as much attention as she wished.
Her husband, Steve, became determined to be the cheerleader. He never let her think about the possibility of death. For him, supporting her meant he had to hold himself in check.
"I can't tell you how many times I had to remind myself that you can't fix it," Steve tells me.
But Stacey says, his strength is what helped get her through it. "Even when I couldn't even look at myself without any hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, he could still look at me and say I was beautiful."
Steve turned to woodworking for his emotional outlet and spent hours in the garage as his escape. "To be honest there were times I went out there and got nothing done. But I needed it." And from the garage, a rocker emerged with the pink ribbon as the back. They consider it a tribute to their emotional journey.
"He finished it and put the last coat on it on my last treatment," Stacey recalls.
"I won't kid you the whole time I was making it my whole thought was 'what are you going to do with this if she doesn't make it' because I spent all the time and effort and my fear was I would get done and she wouldn't make it," Steve adds.
At such a stressful time, their baby Samantha, also helped keep everyone's spirits up with her laughter and her innocence.
One year after treatment ended, the Michauds are closer than ever and they openly share their words of wisdom for other families.
"It doesn't care if you're pregnant, if you're 34, if you exercise every day. You have to be aware of your body," states Stacey emphatically.
Steve wants people to remember, "It's not a disease that affects any one individual. It's going to hurt anyone that's near that person."
Stacey says being a survivor has made them treasure each day, take nothing for granted and to count their blessings.
Reported by Carol Wang, email@example.com