Fear. The things that drive our fears are very real and sometimes imagined. Having had a cancer diagnosis likely means you’ve pushed past many things that caused you to be fearful and afraid. But instead of saying F’ everything and run, we face everything and rise! We endured surgeries and treatments we never thought we could and learned exactly who we are and how we can get through most anything life throws our way, even if we cry along the way!!
When we rush to conclusions about someone else’s health based on how they act, we completely discount the importance of mental health, and that those struggles and demons are just as valid as illnesses. I can’t help but think about those we’ve lost to suicide: some who worked so hard to present as happy for everyone else, or to “fake it til they make it,” but who were fighting their own minds on a constant basis.
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!