It’s ok to ask for help
Over the past few years, Jodi Edmonds has lost 110 pounds and had decided to do some cosmetic surgery. A few weeks after her breast augmentation, she felt something on the side of her breast, which her doctor dismissed as probably being necrosis (dead tissue). They said to massage it and it will go away.
But it did not. The lump actually started protruding from her breast and grew two centimeters in three months.
At her post-surgery checkup, Jodi’s doctor calmly said she wanted to do a mammogram, and then an ultrasound “just to be safe.”
She spent three hours at the hospital and had a biopsy.
“I was kind of surprised [that all of this happened in one day],” she said, since some women are waiting weeks or months to be seen.
She left the hospital knowing that this was serious and said she just started bawling in her car.
“You hear the stories that one in eight women get breast cancer,” Jodi said. “I started counting, and I know all these women that had biopsies come back normal, so I thought, ‘oh crap.’ I’m going to be number eight.”
During a phone call with her doctor last November (2022), she found out that it was stage one breast cancer. She was diagnosed was triple positive invasive ductal carcinoma and she was HER2+ (which means she had a protein in her body that the cancer feeds off of, making it more aggressive). Jodi was 47 years old. The first thing she thought was, “I’m going to die.”
“I thought of my mother-in-law who went through ovarian cancer and how strong she was…I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can do that.’”
She said her youngest daughter took it the hardest because Jodi reminded her of her grandma who passed away.
Since Jodi’s dad and husband were in the military, she has lived all over the country. Her best friends and family are not here, but were still very supportive. Fortunately, her husband was able to come to every chemotherapy and doctor appointment.
Jodi said she does have a lot of cancer in her family history, including breast cancer, but her genetic testing all came back negative. She also stated that being Ashkenazic Jew gave her a higher rate of getting breast cancer.
The following week she started chemotherapy at Aurora.
“It was awful; it was the worst,” said Jodi.
She said she experienced every possible side effect from chemotherapy including fatigue, a burned mouth, thrush which affected her taste buds and hair loss.
She described going to her hair stylist with her family, and them all taking turns shaving off her falling-out hair.
“You don’t realize how much hair is a part of your identity,” Jodi said.
She was so tired and depressed after her fourth treatment, that she spent three weeks in bed, but her doctor told her she needed to get up and try to walk around.
“The side effects (of chemo) can linger for a long time,” Jodi said. “You can’t just jump back into your normal life. I’ve had to learn to pace myself.”
She said that was the hardest part – not being able to take care of her family and her household because of the fatigue.
“I became a burden,” she said through tears. “I was supposed to be the one taking care of everybody. That’s all I did for 25 years as a stay-at-home mom, and now I had to ask for help.”
She said her Bible study group created a meal train to help her provide dinners for her family.
Jodi also took solace in several Facebook support groups, and old friends reaching out.
That treatment ended in March around the time of her birthday so her family had a “chemo is done party.”
She then went through 20 rounds of radiation this summer, which gave her cellulitis. That caused her to have a fever and a rash, ending her up in the emergency room.
Jodi currently goes in every three weeks for infusions and is taking Tamoxifen for the next five years.
Jodi’s advice to women in our community is to check yourself.
“Don’t just rely on the mammogram,” Jodi said. “Sometimes, it misses things.”
She wants to say to anyone going through cancer, that it’s ok to cry and ask for help.
“Whether it’s stage one or stage four, it’s cancer, and it’s scary,” she said.
Jodi and her husband Thad have been married for 25 years. They have four kids and one grandson, who Jodi said always made her smile when she was feeling down during treatment.
Her plans for the future are taking a family vacation to Disneyland next year and doing that 25-year anniversary vacation that got postponed because of her cancer. She said her and her husband talked about going to Ireland, England and maybe somewhere in the Mediterranean.
In her spare time, Jodi enjoys spending time with her grandson and attending Bible study.
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