Breast Cancer Interview with Ruth O'Donnell ( Transcribed )
Mademoiselle Mackenzie Cosmetics had the absolute honor to interview Ruth O’Donnell, a breast cancer fighter. She was very transparent with her story and we wish her continued blessings in abundance. Take a look at what she had to say:
Me: Good afternoon Mrs. O’Donnell. How are you?
Ruth O’Donnell: Oh, I’m fine!
Me: Good, good, good! I just wanted to thank you on behalf of Mademoiselle Mackenzie Cosmetics for agreeing to do this interview and to share your story about being diagnosed with breast cancer. Thank you again.
Ruth O’Donnell: Thank you. I really want to thank you for this opportunity to at least share my breast cancer journey to those women and of course men out there.
Me: Thank you! Thank you! I’m just going to start off by asking you a series of questions that can be found from www.komen.org website.
Me: Ok, so the first question is: When were you diagnosed and at what age?
Ruth O’Donnell: I was diagnosed with breast cancer October 31st of 2017 which was last year. Actually it was Halloween at the age of 52.
Me: And what stage were you diagnosed with?
Ruth O’Donnell: Umm, the one that I had was the invasive ductal carcinoma they call it Grade 2 and it was Stage 2.
Me: And how was it initially detected?
Ruth O’Donnell: Umm, through self breast exam.
Me: Ok, and how did you feel when you first heard the news?
Ruth O’Donnell: Ok, so here’s the thing. It was kind of a mixed emotion because when I had my biopsy the doctor was already sort of discussing with me the options. If ever the result comes out positive when I got the results it was sort of like a confirmation that you know I have breast cancer. So it was kind of like also you know sad because it’s going to be a change of your daily routine but I told myself that I told God, “ You know what God, I accept this challenge as I long as you don’t leave me. Just give me strength and courage to face this.” After that, I just took it one day at a time.
Me: Is there a family history of breast cancer?
Ruth O’Donnell: Actually none! Actually none!
Me: In regards to family and friends, do you have support network through them? Have you met other people through your journey with breast cancer as well?
Ruth O’Donnell: Through my journey there are some friends who have reached out to me. You know I am active on Facebook and I am a very transparent person so I share my journey. Through my journey there were a couple of my friends, Facebook friends, who reached out to me you know who would ask me about how’s my journey, especially when I had my chemotherapy, surgery and all those things. So I was able to share them, my experience. For the support group, the hospital where I had my treatment for chemo and surgery, they mentioned about American Cancer Society, but I didn’t really take advantage of the services. Instead, I was reading a lot about breast cancer, treatment, and treatment options.
Me: Can you tell me a little bit about your treatment process and how it has been since October 31st of last year?
Ruth O’Donnell: After I was diagnosed, I went for the surgery and then it was lumpectomy at first. During the surgery they did a biopsy and found out it went to one of my lymph nodes. It was positive for cancer. Therefore, I went back for a second surgery because they wanted to do an incision. When I did the second surgery they did another biopsy and my doctor said; “ You know what Mrs. O’Donnell I think it’s either we’re going to another incision or do a mastectomy. So after that I said; “ You know what doc, it has been a month already so maybe we can start chemo and after chemo let’s do surgery. After a month I went for chemotherapy and I had a total of 16 cycles. They call it Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 is 4 cycles of Adriamycin and Cytoxan. Part 2 was 8 to 12 cycles. I completed 8 and did not complete the whole 12 because on the 8th cycle I suffered from, they call it peripheral neuropathy, where your fingertips and toes and toes you feel some numbness. After the chemotherapy they let me recover for about six weeks and then I went for bilateral mastectomy. It was my option to remove both of my breasts even if they tested me, they call it the Braca One and Two. Both were negative but it was my option to remove both of my breasts even if I didn’t have family history of breast cancer. It was difficult but I said; “ Don’t worry about it I am still a woman without my breasts.” So that was my journey of the surgery. After surgery, right now, I am doing radiation. They gave me 33 radiation sessions. I have 4 more sessions to go so next week which will be October 4th that will be my last radiation treatment. I am happy you know because it is almost over.
Me: Yeah, that’s wonderful! That’s wonderful. How have you tried to stay positive since last year? Tell me some of your activities, or your hobbies. Just enlighten us a little bit.
Ruth O’Donnell: During my journey, after chemotherapy, those two three days you’re going to be tired and weak. You don’t feel like moving, getting up, you don’t have an appetite to eat but after three days I’m up. What I usually do is, I enrolled myself in what they call Bible Correspondence. On some other days, I do baking because I love baking. I do cakes. Sometimes I go out, go around the block and get some sunshine. I do a little exercise. I do things to keep myself busy. I don’t just sit there and feel sorry for myself. I make everyday a productive day. Being with my family, my church family, friends, talking to friends.I don’t isolate myself. I just make myself active on most of those days.
Me: What message would like to provide to the women of the community?
Ruth O’Donnell: Early detection is the best cure, that’s what they always say. We just have to be mindful of ourselves, we have to listen to our bodies. For women out there, do self breast exams, do it while you’re lying in bed, or maybe while you're taking a shower so if you feel something don’t delay. We have to see our physician right away. Do our routine mammograms. I know it’s painful especially when your breast are teenie weenie like mine before. If you have a family history of breast cancer you have to do what they call genetic testing, Braca One and Two. At least you will be able to know if you are at risk at getting breast cancer. I just want to let the women an the men out there and I say men because they can always get breast cancer that my journey was not that difficult because I let God take full control. You know He’s a great physician. I embraced the journey with a positive attitude. Having breast cancer or any kind of cancer people always say that it is a death sentence. Actually for me, it is a life sentence because of the will to live not only for ourselves but to those who are close to our hearts. So I wish that there’s an end or a cure to this devastating disease but if ever this disease strikes you or you’re already on this journey it would be easier if we would embrace the journey. Stay positive. Stay hopeful. Reach out. Continue to trust God especially. You’ll come out a survivor.
Me: That’s amazing! Your strength, your determination and courage is really remarkable and I really admire that.
Ruth O’Donnell: Thank you so much!
Me: Thank you as well and you’re welcome! Thank you for sharing your story. I know so many women will be touched.
Ruth O’Donnell: Once again I thank you so much, Stacey for giving me this opportunity to share my story out there. Thank you!
Me: You’re welcome Mrs. O’Donnell! Have a good day!