This Can’t Be Happening to Me
by Margaret Lucy

On January 4, 2001, my world as I had known it came to a complete stop. I sat in my doctor’s office as she told me that I had breast cancer. I remember feeling lightheaded, disoriented, and numb. I remember, too, that she continued to talk about chemo, radiation, and mammography. I wanted to listen carefully, and I couldn’t. I could hardly breathe. I looked at my husband, and he had this strange look on his face as though he were in shock.

The only thing I could think to say was, “Will I lose my hair?”

The next several weeks were very busy with all kinds of tests; most of which I had never heard of. No one in my circle of friends had ever had a Muga Scan. I suppose I was in shock for most of that time because I just went from appointment to appointment in somewhat of a daze. I do remember that I cried a lot and was just scared to death. I also felt terribly alone! It was impossible to sleep through the night or go through the day without thinking about dying. My family and close friends were wonderful, but they had never been where I was.

After all the test results were in, I sat with my oncologist to hear the results and discuss the plan! I found out that not all breast cancers are the same. What I have is IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer). Most forms of breast cancer grow slowly. Unfortunately, IBC is aggressive. I had a clear mammogram in June of 2000 and didn’t know I had a problem until I woke up one morning with a warm, swollen breast. By the time that I was diagnosed, it had metastasized to my liver and bones. So, I was in real trouble.

Anyway, that was 5 months ago, and I have come a long way! I have had 7 cycles of chemo, lost my hair, and learned more than I ever wanted to know about cancer. I still have more chemo, radiation, and possible surgery left.

I don’t know what the future holds for me. I may not live until Christmas, or I may live to be a very old woman … but none of us knows how long we are going to live anyway. I do know that I am blessed with a very strong faith, a loving and supportive family, and a strong circle of close friends whom I love with all my heart.

I also have a wonderful cancer support group that meets every Wednesday night, and that has been so important on my journey back to health. My family and friends are wonderful, but my new friends have been there and/or are going through difficult times, and they really “get it.” We laugh and cry together and support each other every step of the way.

Also, I have found an IBC support group on the internet, and that has been very helpful to me. Since my cancer is rare (1-4% of all breast cancers) and very different from “normal” breast cancer, it is comforting to talk with people who have inflammatory breast cancer like mine.

I love life and live each day to the fullest. I have made new friends along the way, and I know that we will be important to each other for the rest of our lives. Some days I feel great, and some days I don’t. However, I sleep through the night now and NEVER concern myself about dying. I’ve decided that it really isn’t what happens to you in life that is important, but it is how you handle it that matters.

I thank God every day for all the blessings I have and just take it ONE DAY AT A TIME.

“Margaret Lucy, with her family by her side, passed away on Thursday, February 14, 2002, to be with her Lord. She promoted awareness and education about IBC. Her bright smile, positive attitude, and rock solid faith were an inspiration to me.” Melanie L. Rapp, Friend in Richmond, Virginia

Story Updated 2002