Friday, October 11, 2019

Bad News Brownies - One Year Later

"I really hate making calls like this...."

I will never forget those first words out of the nurse's mouth when I answered the phone to find out about my biopsy results.  The conversation is a blur but those words, along with a few others are forever ingrained upon me. 

With those first six words, my heart dropped and I can't even really explain the feeling.  Although I had been preparing to hear the worst, I was still in shock [understatement].  I tried to take the best notes that I could but my head was literally spinning.  These words I heard though for sure:


Rare Sub-Type

Harder to Treat

Less Successful

Higher Recurrence

The call was probably twenty minutes and at the end of the call I told the nurse this, "I literally didn't hear 99% of what you just said.  Just tell me what I need to do next.  Like the most immediate next step because I can't deal with the rest right now."  By the next week I had met with both my oncologists and had a plan, and by the end of that same month my port was put in and I was ready to go for chemo.

And so my journey began, one small step at a time.  And when I say small steps, I mean in the past year I've:
  • become a single mom with cancer and been the very best and very worst at that, 
  • become a blogger and been the most vulnerable I have been in my life to hopefully help and encourage others, 
  • had four surgeries in November, March, May, and July, 
  • gained 25 pounds (thank you chemo), 
  • been through two #crazy menopauses (chemical and surgical), 
  • finally got hormone replacement therapy right, 
  • beat myself up and rewarded myself, 
  • had eight rounds of dose dense chemo, every two weeks for four months,
  • emotionally had to deal with losing all my hair, toenails, breasts, uterus, ovaries, basically grieved the death of my pre-cancer self,
  • lost friends and made new ones, 
  • have numb fingers and toes (neuropathy), I think probably forever, 
  • been diagnosed with a heart defect, (because why not?),
  • reinvented the new me (still a work in progress, but much better than the BC me),
  • began oral chemo, now through mid-December, just in case,
  • started physical therapy so I can try and get my hands above my head and reach that top shelf of the cupboard and wash my hair without bending over and take off a sports bra on my own without my daughter having to pull it off me, 
  • probably will go through more surgeries, including breast revision and nipple reconstruction, 
  • become a wellness ambassador for my company, 
  • been on the news supporting my favorite charity, 
  • got a promotion, 
  • went platinum blond 😍, 
  • assembled a Labrador army,
  • been gifted with the most amazing perspective, like ever.
I am completely excited and freaked out about whatever adventures are yet to come!  Excited about the adventures I can control, freaked out about the ones I cannot.

Looking back at the last year I can't even believe everything I have accomplished.  I was laying in bed last night and as my mind raced, as it does every night I try to sleep, I found myself still in disbelief over the fact that this has all really happened.  It's such a crazy feeling.

My next big battle is overcoming the every day fear of this freaking cancer coming back. It can be all-consuming sometimes and although I am actively focused on living my best life every day (like, I'm thinking Thailand in February), it's hard to escape the gorilla in the room.  If you didn't know, when breast cancer metastasizes, it's considered Stage IV and it has no cure.  After that, it's just a conversation about quality and length of life, so that's nice.  

Also interesting is that 30% of initial breast cancer survivors will develop Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer in their lifetime (which I have a higher chance of doing since I am Triple Negative and carry the BRCA-1 gene).  Misaligned with this statistic is the fact that only 2-5% of all research dollars go to curing Stage IV.  If you've seen how many young women are getting diagnosed with breast cancer, in particular triple-negative, you would be as appalled as I am.  I know it's hard to relate to how this might feel since, until a year ago, I was in most of your shoes and had no clue, but the fact that very little effort goes into Stage IV is scary AF and makes you feel incredibly helpless.  

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I would encourage you to check out Metavivor and Michelle's Love and if you are able, support them either through volunteering or donating.  I would also caution you to be mindful of all the breast cancer awareness items you see and may purchase this month. A lot of times, your money isn't going to the cause at all.  And as much as a pink water bottle may be nice to have, your purchase may not be making the real difference that you intended it to.

Anyway, happy one-year cancerversary to me!  One year down, two more years to go for my next cancer benchmark, when my rate for recurrence drops drastically. To honor my body and what we have endured, I have started a modified vegan 30-day cleanse.  When I say modified, I mean I am not moving on my need to have my foo-foo coffee every morning and once a week, there will be a cheat day, because cheeseburgers must happen in my life.  And maybe go to the beach but haven't decided. But right now it's time to go eat some kale.  Killing me lol.

Love you all and thank you for being here with me then, and now one year later.  Can you even believe it?!?!  I cannot express to you the difference and impact having your support has made in my life and the appreciation I feel.

Here's to one year and to as many more years as I can get!


p.s. If you made it all the way through this, just to avoid any confusion, my Day 1 post was called "Bad News Brownies" because the night I found out I had cancer, Jessica sprung into action to make what she called bad news brownies. I didn't get any bad news today.


No comments:

Post a Comment