October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, when we often take time to think of the survivors and victims of breast cancer. Those of us who have not had a personal experience with breast cancer often only associate pink ribbons and races with the disease. These are wonderful things and we certainly are grateful to the organizations that are raising so much money for breast cancer research, but there is another, real, side to this beast. To help us better understand what it is truly like to live with breast cancer, I had the opportunity to talk to an amazing woman, Mendy Bowen, who was kind enough to share her journey with me as a breast cancer survivor.
Just five months ago, at only 38, Mendy was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. As a single mom, sole business owner, and active member in the community, she was shocked to learn that she had been stricken with this terrible disease.
Breast cancer wasn’t something that was on her radar at all, for any reason. Lo and behold one day, all of the sudden, she found the lump during a self examination. She had been breastfeeding her son six months prior and simply thought the lump was a clogged ductal gland. After a negative result from thermal imaging, she had some peace of mind but couldn’t shake the feeling that what she thought was a clogged duct could actually be cancer. Even though she thought the lump was nothing to worry about, her primary doctor advised her to schedule the mammography that changed her life.
Mendy recalled that the week or so after the mammography was a crazy whirlwind. From the day of official diagnosis of cancer, there were countless doctor appointments and visits to see three surgeons for opinions. Mendy’s first surgery was scheduled only one and a half weeks after finding out she had cancer. Talk about a lot to wrap your head around. Going from what she thought was a swollen duct to being diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and having surgery in less than two weeks would be difficult on anyone. Like most women diagnosed with any type of cancer, Mendy dove head first into researching the disease and learning as much as she could, as fast as she could about her treatment options and the recovery rates for her specific situation.
Upon hearing her diagnosis, Mendy initially began preparing herself for a mastectomy. After learning that the recovery rate for those with similar cases as hers was the same with a lumpectomy and mastectomy, she decided to take the advice of her oncologist and have a lumpectomy. This enabled her to start chemotherapy sooner and begin her path to recovery, which might I add she is excelling at.
Despite talking about this undeniably difficult journey, I found myself smiling and laughing a lot while talking with Mendy. Her positive energy and good spirit made it easy to let the fact that she was in the middle of her fight with breast cancer slip to the back of my mind.
After “breezing” through chemo, she is now tackling five days of radiation treatment each week for seven weeks with determination and a smile on her face. Sure, it is not all rainbows and butterflies when battling through cancer treatments but Mendy truly believes that staying positive and continuing to live your life as normal as possible is the key to beating cancer and coming out on top. “You can never feel sorry for yourself, you just can’t. Only you can control how you feel, sure you are tired and drained physically some days but mentally you have to stay strong and positive. Instead of why me, ask yourself what can I do to get better. And DO IT, because you can do it, you just have to have the will. Never give up, you are worth it.”
Mendy’s advice to all women out there: get checked! Get screened early. Don’t wait until you are 40. Get checked starting at 30-35. At 38 Mendy had no reason to believe that she was at risk for developing cancer. If she had ignored the lump, which she thought was a swollen duct, and waited until the age of 40 to get screened it may have been too late. If she had been screened at 30-35, they might have caught the cancer at an earlier stage and she wouldn’t be going through treatments now and accumulating hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Mendy also suggests that, if you have been diagnosed with cancer and are scheduled for a lumpectomy, ask the surgeon to go ahead and put the port in at the same time as the lumpectomy. This will eliminate one more procedure, one less surgery, and allow you a couple extra days for your body to recovery from surgery before starting chemotherapy treatments.
By sharing her story, Mendy hopes to educate, empower and strengthen the community’s awareness of breast cancer and the importance of routine screenings and early detection. She encourages women to get screened earlier, because as with any cancer, early detection is best. For those finding themselves on the journey of cancer recovery, don’t let cancer dictate your life. LIVE your life. It is clear that living with cancer is definitely an interesting journey, there are ups and downs. Continue, as best as you can on your daily routine and never let cancer take your will to fight. Get aggressive, run the show, go after it, educate yourself and kick cancer’s butt. You CAN do it.
As I mentioned, Mendy owns and operates a small business: Plant Beach Fort Myers, a contempo spa that promotes total body wellness, enabling you to live healthier and happier. Planet Beach is your solution for total wellness. Pamper the mind and body while saving both time and money with wellness services and products. Live healthier and happier than you deemed possible. Let the staff at Planet Beach give you the energy boost you need to help you conquer the world, and cancer!
Mendy, and several of the spa’s members, will attest to the fact that they wholeheartedly believe that the services they receive at the spa have helped their total wellness beyond measure. From overcoming injuries, recovering from surgery, and yes even fighting cancer, the services provided at Planet Beach are unquestionably effective at promoting total wellness.
Below are just a few of the services available at Planet Beach Fort Myers:
Red Light Therapy: Discovered by NASA, this type of light has a stronger wavelength than other types of light so it can penetrate deeper into the skin and literally heal the body from the inside out. Red light therapy helps eliminate aches, pains, arthritis, eczema, and speeds healing process after trauma or surgery. Mendy attributes much of her ability to bounce back and stay strong throughout this journey with cancer to the benefits she receives from the red light therapy and other services available in the spa.
Hydration Station/Hydro Derma Fusion: This enables your body to sweat out toxins while at the same time using light therapy to put vitamins into your body. An excess of toxin buildup in the body results in aching joints. This station also tightens skin elasticity and can burn up to 600 calories in one session.
Oxygen Therapy: The air we breathe has approximately 20% oxygen, the personal O2 bar available at the spa provides approximately 90 % oxygen. Breathing clean, fresh oxygen enriched air promotes clear thinking and gives you energy you’ve been craving! Recent research has led more doctors to begin prescribing oxygen treatments to cancer patients because cancer cells cannot survive in oxygen-rich environments.
Hydro Massage: This medical grade massage table relieves stress, decreases muscle tension, increases flexibility, breaks up toxins and reduces fatigue. Fatigue was a big part according to Mendy and reducing it is always a plus.
Cyber Relax Massage: Designed for ultimate relaxation, this massage therapy chair uses a 3-D Point Navi Sensor to scan your body’s shape and posture, customizing your experience from over 700 different massage combinations. Sit back, relax and let the chair do all the work for you.
Saunatox: There’s no better way to promote healing and wellness than with Saunatox! Infrared heat technology raises the body’s core temperature and aids in the detoxification process. Near, mid and far-infrared waves, a safe form of light therapy, deeply penetrates the skin up to 3 inches into the muscular tissue and ligaments. The Saunatox works as a hyperthermic environment in which cancer cells cannot thrive in.
Luminous Facial: Uses light therapy combined with topical skincare products to create a radiant glow that starts from within. Look younger, healthier and more refreshed without the pain of injections or the recovery time of a chemical peel.
Planet Beach is changing the way the world rejuvenates, with convenient, affordable and self-automated spa services that help you achieve total skincare, wellness and stress relief! Stop in today and let Mendy and her team get you “spa drunk,” a term jokingly used to describe the feeling of total relaxation and rejuvenation after spending a couple of hours at Planet Beach.
Planet Beach Spa
6631 Orion Drive #110
Ft. Myers, FL, 33919
(corner of Daniels and Plantation)