When she felt another swollen lymph node under her arm a few months later, she became concerned and made an appointment with her doctor.
She bled a lot when the biopsy was performed, which is typical of cancer, she said. Less than a week later, the diagnosis was confirmed.
Bixler said she was told after her partial mastectomy that she was cancer-free. When she returned to the doctor to have her port and stitches removed, however, she learned she had cancer of the lymphatic system.
“It was very traumatic,” she said. “It was a surreal experience. I was living it, but it’s like, this isn’t really happening to me.
“It was at that time in my life when I realized I wasn’t the bus driver in my life. I was only a passenger.”
Her biggest fear was for her daughter. Bixler’s first husband died when Tiffany was 14, and though Bixler’s second husband, Bill, had stepped into the fatherly role, she didn’t want to leave Tiffany without a biological parent.
“You think about the biological things,” Bixler said.
Her battle gave her a stronger faith in a higher power. She also made a lot of lifestyle changes, including becoming a vegan.