Cristina Painter

My husband was stationed in Belgrade with the United Nations at the time, and our daughter was 3. I was essentially a single parent who took care of everything.
When I woke up the morning of April 10, 1998 it felt like I must’ve slept on a button or my daughter left a small toy on the bed. The feeling was on my right breast. Got up felt around and discovered a lump. Hmmmmm. Took my daughter to school, I called in sick, and went straight to Mother Cabrini hospital in Chicago for a mammogram. Sure enough there was a mass. After calling my friend who’s a doctor, she hooked me up with the best surgeon in town. I called my mom. Mom went with me to Northwestern to go through numerous mammo’s to determine what was going on. It was a horrible day, took forever. Then came the needle aspiration. Yes, cancer. I cried, mom cried. I called my husband.
I just put one foot in front of the other. Listened to the doctors, read books, internet.
Stage 3 cancer mastectomy and reconstruction. Boy, did that surgery hurt!!!! It’s quite a blow to the body.
I’m still on that journey and will be on it for the rest of my life. You see, I’m cancer free right now, but there’s still no cure.
It wasn’t so much a battle. I was told I had Breast Cancer and did what I had to do. Sure, I cried a lot, was hospitalized over 10 times in the years since with recurrences and complications with chemo and reconstruction. So I learned that God doesn’t give me anything I can’t handle. That said, being a mom, teacher, and wife I always knew I can do anything and everything. The biggest thing I learned which I carry with me to this day is to ask for help.