on March 6, 2009, I learned I had cancer. Photo of Sheila Rugg and family.I wanted to be done by my 45th birthday on Jan. 20, 2010. If I wasn’t going to let cancer beat me, I sure wasn’t going to let a snowy Wisconsin winter get in my way. When I want something, I usually get my way. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

In early spring of 2009, I felt a lump in my breast. I went to my doctor right away. Nothing definitive showed on a mammogram or ultrasound, so I had a biopsy. All along I heard reassurances that it was probably nothing.

But on March 6, 2009, I learned I had cancer. The next thing I know I’m being told the cancer may have spread to the bone. It was six days from hell. Every time the phone rang the news got worse. All I could think was, “I don’t have time for cancer, I have three kids to raise.”

My cancer was estrogen sensitive so I started hormone therapy to shrink the tumor. By June, the news was more hopeful. The tumor had shrunk enough to consider surgery. I opted to have both breasts removed. I was not going through this a second time. And my oncologist, Dr. Dietrich, was “cautiously optimistic” the cancer was not in the bone.

Although I’m usually a strong person, I had to draw strength from the people around me. While I went through treatment, I continued my home-based daycare with help from my mother-in-law. I was determined not to let cancer interfere with my life. My husband was a saint through it all. He drove me from Sparta to La Crosse for all my appointments. My sister, a nurse, was always there with me, too. My kids gave me endless love and support.

I finished chemotherapy in November and started radiation in early December. This was when I vowed to be finished with treatments and finished with cancer before my birthday on Jan. 20. We had to drive from our home in Sparta to La Crosse for treatments, but my husband promised me that snow was not going to stop us. He’d find a way to get me there.

I had my final radiation treatment on Jan. 19, the day before my birthday as promised. I was done with treatments…and I’m done with cancer.

Sheila Rugg
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