Today marks one year since my Cancer diagnosis. 365 days ago I had my mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. I didn’t have full confirmation that I had Cancer that day, but I knew I did and so did my Radiologist. And he confirmed it three days later. So I choose to use this day, August 2nd as my “Diagnosis Cancerversary”.
That day… August 2, 2013.
The day is still so fresh in my mind. The thoughts, feelings, the pain… both physical and mental. My biopsy hurt (Don’t ever let someone tell you that Breast Cancer doesn’t hurt!) and my soul hurt that day. On my hour-long ride home, a trip we would take so many more times in the next year for treatment, I visualized my life, it flashed before me so to say. First my girls, “If I don’t make it, they won’t remember me… they are too young to remember me!”. Next thought was of my husband, “We haven’t had enough time together, I want to be with the love of my life for more than six years!”. To God, “Ha, funny! I kinda knew I would have my turn with this beast, but really??? NOW??? Before age 40, with a young family?”. So much more went through my mind that late afternoon, as I drove 90 mph home to be close to those that would be with me as I fought for my life.
My love and I a few days after diagnosis.
My girlies and I that weekend waiting for the official word. Karis (3) and Mattea (14mos.)
I have to say that the hardest part of having Cancer for me has been the waiting and the unknown. You wait for your diagnosis, for me it was Invasive Ductual Carcinoma. You wait for an appointment with your surgeon, where you decide how and when to get this crap out of your body, I chose a Bi-lateral Mastectomy. More time passes before you meet with your plastic surgeon and decide if you want boobs back, for me Tissue Expanders with Permanent Implants at a later date was the way to go. Then after surgery you really learn how good or bad it is, in my case this Cancer was moderate in the level of Breast Cancer seriousness… IDC, 2.7cm tumor, Grade 2, Stage IIB, ER/PR+, HER-(2+), 2/13 lymph nodes positive for Cancer. Next the healing begins and I had a little time to breathe. I was happy to have the Cancer out, but fear remains… where else could this beast be hiding??
September 11, 2013… the day of my Bi-lateral Mastectomy with Tissue Expander placement. Bye-bye Cancer and bye-bye boobs.
Fear, fear remains today. It comes and goes of course. I didn’t experience much of it while in active treatment. I guess when you are seeing medical professionals every week and they are injecting a deadly cocktail shakin and not stirred just for you, you feel like you can win that battle. In the beginning of treatment you almost have no fear, I was in the fight, the fight for my life. People refer to this process as “Beating Cancer”, “Winning the Fight” and in the end you hope to be called a “Survivor”. But as time goes on, the days get long, and your body begins to break down, that “Fear” is never really that far from the front of your mind. And a year out now from my diagnosis, it continues and I believe never really goes away. The fact is that Cancer can and does return sometimes. No matter how hard you fight, whether you’ve won before, it is a real possibility.
Shortly after my diagnosis, Clint would write quotes on the mirror of our room for encouragement… This Dr. Suess quote became one of my favs.
Go… Fight… Win! It is the Cancer motto, right or wrong, it does help get you through.
Lessons and Blessings abound when you get a Cancer diagnosis. I quickly learned who was in this “fight” with me and whom I knew I was going to be able to rely on in the months to come. Diagnosis and treatment also brings with it the fact that some people are not good with illness, death and their own mortality. Some whom I thought I was going to be able to call upon distanced themselves. I don’t fault them, Cancer sucks and is hard to handle. I guess one of the great lessons learned is take care of yourself, your family and those that are on your side. That is what you will need to get through the journey. Blessings… oh my, sooo many! Old friends that come back into your life to lift you up, show support and give whatever they can to see that you are OK. New friends that you have to hug you, pray for you and to be rocks through the hard fight. The greatest blessing I’ve found through it all is that God is never far. He has a plan for me. He has given me everything I need to make it through. Life is precious, love and live in the moment. I take time now to watch my girls more closely. Hold my husband’s hand a little longer and enjoy each and every day He allows me to be here with them… and only He knows how long that will be.
Taken the week before my mastectomy, September 2013.
My friend of 25+ years. Joanna taught me through all of this that time moves on, things change, but friendship and the love of the Lord never do.
So thankful for the Andersons. I know they were praying for us. And extra thankful for their company during my last chemo infusion on April 3, 2014.
My co- workers… who saw me through each week with their friendship and support. Besides my immediate family, they saw my ups and downs the most and were there with me every step of the way.
My co-working girls… Laurie, Rachelle and Rogine. My party planners, shoulders to cry on and my kicks in my butt when needed.
Love is all there is. Still not sure I deserve his love, but I’ll take it, cherish it and never let it go. Just like he did for me during this journey.
20 plus years for these graduates of Chelsea High School. Cancer can bring out friendships from the past and make the present again. Scott and Joanna heading back to Colorado after a day trip visit a few days after my 40th birthday in June 2014.
My mom, who I know would have given anything to have this Beast instead of me. Showed her support during my Mastectomy and celebrated my 40th.
I seem to pick up at least one friend from each segment of my life. The beautiful lady in the middle is Beth. So glad she hung on to me and visited in June of 2014.
Even though they had their own family and health struggles in the last year, the Martinez family called, texted and prayed for us through out the journey and visited with their family in July of 2014.
It must be hard to watch your child go through Cancer, but I’ve been blessed with this guy, my dad and his wife Norma. His calls and visits during the last year have meant more than I can say.
The only way to kill cancer is to go at it with full force. A few weeks after my surgery I met with my medical oncologist. You learn quickly that things are serious when they plug your numbers into a computer program and give you statistics as to your survival rate based on the course of treatment you choose. No further treatment for me meant an over 70% chance that I’d have a reoccurrence. Adding Chemotherapy would decrease the likelihood of a reoccurrence to around 30%… I’ll take it! So I was set to be slowly poisoned in order to live. And let me tell you… IT SUCKED! If you could get a side effect, I did. During my course of AC (Adriamycin and Cytoxan) that was to be administered every other week, I slept for about 72 hours straight and was hospitalized with Influenza A, do to a weakened immunity. During my weekly infusion of the drug Taxol, I had such severe joint and muscle pain that they suspended my treatment for a week and lowered my dose to reduce the effects. All of this, along with so many other nasty feelings lasted from October 24, 2013 to April 3, 2014.
You are a name and a number when it comes to Cancer Care.
This was a bag of Taxol. I received Taxol every week for 12 weeks. The stuff has brought me some long lasting joint pain and neuropathy in my right foot.
This is what you can look like if you have cancer, are knee deep in one of the nastiest chemo treatments and get Influenza A… It’s not pretty!
Banded up. It’s the new status, cool kid bracelets, don’t you know 🙂
This is Adriamycin… if it gets outside that tube and on your skin you are screwed. The chemo ladies suit up and it comes in a paper sack. Lovely as it is put into a major artery. It also makes you pee red a few times after it is given… Good times! 🙂
Along the way you come to rely on your team, made up of doctors and nurses and support staff. Trusting your team is important. Knowing that they have your best interest in mind was important. To be honest sometimes I felt I was supported, but there were times when I felt I wasn’t. But in the end I was happy with my outcome and would tell other Cancer patients to advocate for yourself for whatever you feel you need.
This was one of my favorite nurses. She was my first chemo nurse… I guess we always hold a spot in our heart for our first. 🙂
This is Rapid City Regional Cancer Care Centers Breast Navigator… long title! She was around to offer support, to talk to and to hand out some money for traveling expenses.
Here is the Cancer Man, Dr. Michael Robinson. With is DRY sense of humor and throw the whole kitchen sink at Cancer attitude, he was a great man to have on your side.
This is ex-Texan, air force boyfriend, chemo is my passion Becky. She was the nurse I had the most during my time at Cancer Care. She was sweet, caring and really knew her stuff.
The final process for me in my Breast Cancer journey was to complete my reconstruction and get new Foobs (fake boobs) before my 40th birthday. I wanted to start out the next decade of my life “Cancer Free” and fabulous! I had my final surgery on May 21, 2014. Are my new foobs all I had dreamed of, not really. But now they are a part of me and a reminder of life and death. I also had a Tubal Ligation that day. As my Cancer was mostly driven by Estrogen and progesterone in my body, I will take for the next five plus years Tamoxifen. A pill that strips my body of Estrogen to not give Cancer any thing to feed off of. Thankfully I already had my two beautiful girlies. Chemo also put me into a menopausal state called chemo-pause. Being 40 now and being in menopause has been interesting. I pray daily for my husband and my girls that the crazy lady doesn’t come out too often. And the hot flashes suck!
Pick a size, any size! I have 620cc teardrop silicone breast implants.
Don’t mess with me… I’ve had Cancer! Loving this shirt too!
Hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain… all the things to look forward to as I continue to fight my Cancer with Tamoxifen.
Thanks to a law passed during the Clinton administration, any women with Breast Cancer has the right and shall be offered reconstrative surgery of their breasts.
Now, a year later I am considered a “Survivor”. I have gone through one of the hardest things that someone will go through in their life time. I pray everyday that my Cancer does not return, it could, but I refuse to live each day with that on my mind! My time with Cancer taught me to slow down, be present and to care more deeply. Cancer showed me new ways to know that God is always present. After all, I do believe He set me up in the most amazing of situations in order to find my Cancer in the first place. There were times during treatment that in the dark spaces the only one to rely on was Him. Cancer brought me closer and deeper into my faith, another blessing. Again, I have experienced so many lessons and blessings from my time with Cancer. I would have never had asked for it, but I truly believe that Cancer has brought me more fully into the women God intended me to be. I pray that at sometime Cancer will be null and void in some many people’s lives. My Grandmother was a 22 year Breast Cancer Survivor. Through this journey I have made connections with other women who know… really KNOW what this experience is like. I think of a former co worker, Nancy, that was my first sounding board and rock, who has been dating NED (no evidence of disease) for two years now. I think of Brandy, a school friend, that was diagnosed with breast cancer I believe over ten years ago now when she had a young family and the supportive messages via facebook she would send. And Sarah, a follow mom and Hot Springs, SD resident to I pray will continue to fight the good fight daily as she works hard at becoming a Survivor herself. Cancer affects too many more to mention, but my hope is that my story, my struggle and my blessings can show that in life’s most deepest depths, there is life, hope and a smile. I will continue to celebrate each and every day, along with all the Cancerversary dates I have to come…hopefully for many years to come!
Sara and I at this years Relay for Life. I am blessed to know her and call her a friend. Fight on Sara, Fight on!
It’s not just the person with Cancer that is effected, the whole family is. The Walker’s are all survivors!
Me TODAY, August 2, 2014! Cancer Free!