GoodSide Studio interviewed Michele Hyra for the non-profit, Trusera. Her stage 4 cancer survivor story is powerful and moving.
My name is Michele Hyra, and I’m 41 years old. Last year in June, I found a lump under my armpit. I had had mammograms every year since I was 35, because I have a high cancer history in my family. I got kind of tipsy with my girlfriends and then I was like, “Can you feel this thing under my armpit? Is it a lump?” And I got confirmation from three friends that it was a lump.
And so, I went to the doctor, and what showed up on the mammogram was so disturbing to them they asked me if I could stay until 12:30 to have a breast MRI. And on the breast MRI, all my skeleton, if they would have been imaging at that area, was lighting up. I was a stage four from the onset because I had tumors in my breasts, tumors in my lymph node, and then cancer growing on almost all of the bones in my entire body. So from my nose to my toes.
I’ve been in the health care industry. My father is a physician. My mother was a nurse. I have contacts all over this area, and me pulling every string that I had possible, I couldn’t get in for two weeks. And I had four palpable lumps. Why is that going on? Why is it still a disease that’s completely out of control, that you can’t get an appointment when you’ve had three people confirm that you have lumps that you can’t even get in to have a mammogram? It’s, I mean, to me, it’s insanity.
I know that, as a woman who received yearly mammograms, that if I was to have been called by the mammogram coordinator, and said, “Hey, there’s this other gal. We found something. She really needs to get in for a mammogram. Would you be willing to give up your spot to this other person?” I would gladly do that. And I don’t know one who wouldn’t, because in the sisterhood, we all know somebody who has breast cancer, and I think that anybody would give up their spot, no matter how long they’ve waited, if they didn’t have anything going on.
My doctor found lumps. I went in. I had a mammogram. I had an ultrasound. They had a radiologist look at me then and I had surgical consoles, and the
[films] weren’t available for the surgical consoles, which was two months later. So, as an advocate, I would say that, you know, I would like to put more controls on who can sue and why. I don’t sue, and I don’t pursue that, because I don’t have time. When I was initially diagnosed, they told me I had 11 months to live. And I have a six-year-old and a two-year-old. That’s why I don’t sue. I am a firm believer that if you’re not a part of the solution, that you’re probably part of the problem. So, that’s where my husband and I come from.
For me, to have my own blog, my own bliss, my own place where people can come to me and maybe they can get something out of that, or they can share something with me that’s going to be valuable to my journey. It’s just important. It’s an important communication tool for me that doesn’t involve my husband or my family or my friends. It’s just something that I can do in my time and in my space to help me process some of what’s going on.
If I could change the life of one woman, if I can get one woman to go in for a mammogram, to make a choice to do a breast self-exam, to do something, that I was moving ahead in a positive direction. So that’s, I think, where the storytelling comes. Because if you can remove some of the fear, some of the burden, then I think more people are apt to get checked, do self-exams, sign up for Check Your Boobies, get a mammogram. Get a colonoscopy.