Sisters' Journey & WYBC Celebrate Survivors
 
Sisters' Journey & WYBC Celebrate Survivors
Sisters’ Journey Survivor of the Month: Denise McCall
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Photo taken by Robert Brennan

Sisters’ Journey Survivor of the Month

June 2017

Denise McCall

 

I moved to New Haven, Connecticut from the Bronx in 2008. I had purchased my home prior to the move. My name is Denise McCall. My journey started two years ago. I was taking a shower when I felt a small lump. I really thought it was nothing but I still went to the doctor the next day. I was immediately told to have both a mammogram and an ultrasound. I said to myself: “Let me get this over and return to work.”

I was waiting in this small room for my results when I was called back for a second ultrasound, and that’s when I started to get a little worried. The radiologist walked in to assist the technician with the ultrasound. By now my heart was pounding and my thoughts were racing. I felt like I was all alone. The radiologist turned to me and said, “Yup, it looks like you have breast cancer,” and left the room. I felt like I had just been hit by an 18-wheeler. I could not believe this news. Tears started to roll down my face uncontrollably. The technician just gave me the biggest hug. I thought how could the radiologist give me the worst news of my life and not have any sympathy.

I had just heard the worst news of my life and to know I was there alone made things worse. I went to my car and cried uncontrollably. It was so surreal. I never imagined this would happen to me. I had to tell my family and friends. A voice inside me said you have two choices: You can either travel down this path and have a pity party for yourself, or you can choose happiness and be positive. At that point, something magically happened. I made a conscious decision to be happy.

My journey along the way has been a long but a happy one. It bothered me to be around people that made me feel sad. It was important to surround myself with people who made me laugh and feel happy. I’ve made it through with the support of my family and friends. I had the lump removed. I went through chemotherapy and I had radiation treatments. I lost my hair and I accepted my journey in a positive way. Losing my hair did not bother me; after all, hair does grow back.

Going through breast cancer has taught me so much. It made me realize who my real friends were.  I was very shocked to see the people that actually cared. In an instant, I was out of work with no income. Never would I have imagined that would have happened – and I was a single parent with two kids. I thank God that my oldest daughter was living with me at the time. She was able to support the kids and I. Without her I would have lost everything. I am so thankful I had her love and financial support.

I have learned to enjoy life more and to be more grateful for my blessings. I make sure I take time for myself and give myself the time I deserve. I appreciate life more. It is now a priority to do more of what makes me happy. I still give of myself to others but most importantly I remember to give to myself. I realize I must enjoy life to the fullest. I now look back down the road I’ve traveled and can’t believe I went through it all.

I’ve never allowed myself to get caught up in everything. I had the best doctor in the world, Dr. Kristen Zarfos. I always had a feeling of peacefulness because I knew I was in good hands with her. Through it all, I learned exactly where I stand in the lives of others, and with that being said, I shall continue to enjoy my life exactly how I choose.