I needed to see other women, on the other side, who were fine. I typed "#BRCA" into the Instagram search bar and my life changed forever. For the first time in my life, I wasn't alone in my thoughts and fears. I feel that through these women, I have learned more than I have through all of the doctors I saw in the past years. I felt stronger. These women helped me into a position where I could advocate for myself and make decisions that were right for MY body and MY life.
Between that day, and a full month of scans (CT, two MRIs, echo and full body bone), my diagnosis went from stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (breast cancer), to stage III HER2+, to stage IV with mets to the liver. I also went from being told that I would need a lumpectomy and radiation, to a mastectomy with chemotherapy and radiation, to surgery coming right off the table and going straight into six months of chemo and hormone blockers - do not pass GO!
A few days ago I was scrolling through social media and I came across this quote: “You mastered survival mode, now it’s time to live.” and so I paused and read it again and again and then I asked myself, “What do I define as survival mode? Did I master survival mode or am I still surviving? Am I really living? Can you ever master survival mode?” So then I went on to think about everything that has been going on in my life so far, both past and present and realized that I find myself going back and forth into survival mode, maybe all of us do (at least for now).
After everything that has happened these past two years, I can confidently say I wasn’t prepared for the internal changes I would face. As cliché as it sounds many things that were important to me before, simply do not matter now. I went in completely unknowing & naïve to how my life would change. I am still navigating this new normal that I have been thrust into but I can confidently say, I am stronger now than I was before! Making my mess my message is something that means the world to me.
When someone says, “tell me about yourself”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Do you identify most with your job? What about with your diagnosis? One of the biggest struggles I’ve had since finding out I had breast cancer was figuring out how I really see myself, and how I identify myself to others. When I’m too sick to work, am I still a physical therapist? Just a cancer patient? A survivor? Does it really matter? Who gets to decide these things?