By Cat Phillips In 2010 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and then breast cancer in 2011. I went through chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, as well as holistic and integrative treatments. The lymphoma quickly healed, but breast cancer continued to haunt me. I experienced several recurrences which resulted in excessive surgeries, treatments and cosmetic procedures.
So, we did the damn thing. We did it. We kept life normal for our kids. Cancer was just a part of it all. It was just part of our parenting story. And honestly, I don’t think I’d change it. They know doctors are amazing human beings who love and take care of their mom and will do it for them if they need it. They know they have so many people who love them and are part of their team of helpers in this world. They know they can be strong if they need to be. They know that sometimes bad stuff happens. And mostly, they know they can handle life. No matter what it throws at them.
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!
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.