Cancer Survivor Corey Calligano’s Story
The last thing a 30 year-old mother of three thinks about is having cancer, especially with no family history. But in September of 2012 that is what this Coventry, RI mom was diagnosed with.
Corey remembers having to tell her kids “I decided to tell my daughters one day after they got off the bus from school. I will never forget this conversation for as long as I live. I started with “Do you know what breasts are?” Silly question maybe, but this is 2014, I refer to “breasts” as something you eat off a chicken. Girls have boobs and that’s what I have told my children. They both looked up at me with their big blue eyes and shook their heads no. I explained that boobs are actually called breasts and that Mommy has Breast Cancer. The minute I said cancer, Olivia started to cry, which made me cry, which then made Alaina cry. I explained to them that I was going to be very sick for a while but that I would be better by the next year. Ok, so a year to a child is like FOREVER! Kids have no concept of time, so trying to give them a timeline wasn’t working. I also told them that I was going to lose my hair. “Your going to be bald!” “YUP…” My daughter, Alaina, sitting in her chair across from me pushed herself away from me. “I don’t want to see you with no hair, you will look ugly.” Well, children are honest, what could I say to that. I told her I would wear a scarf so she wouldn’t have to see my bald head. This kid is the funniest kid I’ve ever met, she doesn’t mean or know that she’s being funny, which just makes her even funnier. She looked at me and with this, what are you stupid attitude and says. “what’s a scarf gonna do for your head, scarfs go around your neck!” I laughed so hard!!”
For Corey, who was dealing with Stage 2b Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, it was the help from her boyfriend, family & friends that got her through. She says “I had a port placed in my chest for a year so I could get infusions that way instead of using the veins in my arms. I went through 5 months of chemotherapy, I had a lumpectomy with 19 lymph nodes removed under my arm which has now caused me to have lymphedema. I had 6 1/2 weeks of radiation, and because I am Her2 positive I had one year of Herceptin treatments. I am currently taking Tamoxifen, which I will be taking for the next 5 years, because I am estrogen positive. I have 3 small children, at the time I was diagnosed they were 8,6 and 1 year-old. I got up out of bed everyday, cleaned the house, cooked and tried my best to have a normal life for my children.”
All cancer patients deal with treatment differently. Some have a hard time with surgery or chemotherapy, for others it’s what chemo does to you and your body. This was true for Corey, “Losing my hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes was the worst for me. My self-esteem plummeted into the ground. Most days I would put makeup on, I got really good at drawing on eyebrows, but I was still very upset with how I looked, which made me physically feel worse.”
Corey blogged about her experience in the hopes that she could educate or help other people going through cancer. She has some really good advice, “No matter what the diagnosis, just try to live your life to the fullest. Don’t stress over the little things, be with people that make you happy and NEVER stop fighting!”
Author’s Note: Please visit this cancer survivor’s blog at www.mypinkribbonjourney.wordpress.com