Stacy Sugg had just taken some time away from her job as a teacher to spend more time with her children and her husband. But just a few months later -- on her 16th wedding anniversary -- she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"It was not exactly the gift I was expecting," Stacy says.
To calm her fears, Stacy scheduled an appointment at MD Anderson in the Nellie B. Connally Breast Center's Multi Team Clinic in Houston, not far from her Conroe home.
Coming to MD Anderson for breast cancer treatment and a mastectomy
During her first appointment, Stacy and her husband met with all her doctors, including her surgeon, her oncologist and her radiation oncologist. They made a plan for her breast cancer treatment.
"As someone who's just been diagnosed with cancer, all you want is to know what you need to do next," she says. "We left with smiles on our faces. We had a plan, and we knew that our doctors were all on the same page. It was a very comforting feeling."
Because the cancer had been caught early, she wouldn't need chemotherapy or radiation. Her doctors gave her a choice between a lumpectomy and a double mastectomy, but her surgeon warned her that the lumpectomy could leave her deformed.
"The double mastectomy was 100% my decision," she says. "It's not right for everyone, but I felt like it was the right choice for me."
On Dec. 19 -- just a month after her breast cancer diagnosis -- Stacy's care team performed the double mastectomy. Going into the surgery, Stacy had been nervous and afraid. But her doctors helped ease those fears.
"My doctors answered every single question I had. They heard me and my concerns. They exceeded my expectations," she says. "I felt like I was important to them."
In the end, the surgery itself and the recovery from it were much easier than Stacy had expected.
Now, Stacy is preparing for her reconstruction surgery. Like before, she's nervous. But she has faith that everything will be fine, just like the first surgery.
A stronger family
For Stacy, one of the greatest challenges during her cancer treatment was trying to be and brave and strong all the time, especially in front of her 12-year-old twins, a boy and a girl.
She eventually decided that honesty was the best policy. She told them as much as they needed to know, but she answered their questions truthfully. When they asked if she was scared, she said yes.
"They saw me crying, they saw me praying," Stacy says. "Looking back on it, I don't regret it. I want them to know that life is not perfect, and sometimes, you're called to do bigger and greater things. You don't have to be brave and strong all the time."
She adds, "I think it's made our family stronger."