Today we are delighted to share this In her Words post featuring Regina McCray. Diagnosed at only 37 years old, Regina shares her story with everyone she meets and is a ray of light for women diagnosed with breast cancer.
See below for our inspirational interview with Regina.
Tell us a little bit about your story and how you survived through breast cancer?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 10, 2009 at the age of 37 years old. I had no family history, but because I work as a radiation therapist and see young women with cancer every day I started having mammograms at the age of 35. My tumor was aggressive and was stage 2, grade 3, with one lymph node involved. I had a right breast mastectomy 3 weeks later and started chemo in April of 2009. I survived because of my faith in God, and the love of my parents and 11 siblings (I am the oldest child). I also have a great support system of friends, co-workers and family.
You had to experience radiation as part of your treatment plan. What advice or information would you give to other women who need to experience radiation as part of their breast cancer treatment?
About 3 weeks after completing my last chemo treatment ( I did 6 round lasting from April to August) I started radiation, 33 treatments. Radiation only affects the area being treated so my skin got irritated like a bad sunburn, but my aloe vera plant worked wonders. Skin will be sensitive about 2 weeks into treatment and may start to get sore as treatment progresses, but the prescription creams given by the radiation oncologists usually work great. About 3 weeks after completion of treatment (usually 28-33 days Mon.-Fri) the skin will start to get back to normal. For any woman needing radiation, it’s not as bad as most people think. You don’t feel the treatment, and it normally takes less than 10 minutes to receive treatment. Please don’t let the radiation horror stories scare you out of a treatment that is designed to kill microscopic cancer cells that may have been left behind. It is so worth the peace of mind!
You’ve been a great advocate for The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction and a wonderful support source for your community. Tell us what you’ve been doing to support women who are experiencing breast cancer or know of someone who is?
After surgery, chemo, and radiation, I wanted to get my life, and body back so I joined support groups and started sharing my story with newly diagnosed women to help them get through the initial shock. I speak to lots of my patients about my experience in order to let them know that they can get through it. I did a talk at my church to bring awareness to breast cancer, and I tell everyone that I come in contact with that if they know anyone that is battling this disease and need someone to talk to, they can call me anytime, day or night.
How has your life changed since being diagnosed with breast cancer?
Breast cancer has changed my life in so many ways, I never thought that something so painful, could make me a better person. I am grateful for the little things. I tell the people I love that I love them more often, and I don’t take for granted that I will have the chance of a tomorrow. I live each day to the fullest, not caring nearly as much about pleasing others as I do about pleasing God and being happy. I travel now and see places that I only dreamed about before, because now I know that tomorrow is not promised. Even if I don’t make it to retirement, God has given me today and I am enjoying Life! I laugh more and love harder.
What type of breast reconstruction did you have and would you recommend it to other women who might be contemplating natural breast reconstruction?
In May of 2010, about 14 months after being diagnosed with breast cancer I went into the hospital for bilateral natural breast reconstruction along with a left mastectomy. Dr James Craigie (along with Dr Kline) performed the DIEP flap procedure taking
fat and blood vessels from my tummy to make my beautiful new breasts. This procedure helped me feel whole again! I am so pleased with the results that I tell my patients, support group sisters, and anyone that is considering reconstruction that this is the way to go. My breasts feel like a part of my body, and I even have some feeling in them, not to mention they look great and I can wear a bathing suit and anything else, and look and feel great with my new girls and my flat tummy! I highly recommend the procedure and for anyone contemplating reconstruction please call Dr. Craigie’s office. He is in my opinion, the best Dr. on the planet. Skillful, patient, and his bedside manner is better than any other physician that you will ever meet. The staff is also awesome, courteous, patient and helpful. I think the team from The Center for Natural Reconstruction was put here by God to give women like me a second chance, and they will always have a place in my heart!
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