“1 in 8″

““I am so sorry to tell you this over the phone, are you sure you want me to do this?” The nurse asked. “Yes. Please. I think I already know.” I replied. “Your biopsy results are positive. You have Invasive Lobular Carcinoma and Invasive Mammary Carcinoma.”

There it was. I had breast cancer.”

11

“There is this strange, disembodied feeling that comes over you while you are initially processing this type of information. I knew it was happening to ME, but it felt like I was suddenly someone else, experiencing my diagnosis in the third person. Wow. She has cancer, she has children. Young children. This is so sad…”

4

“My very next emotion was one of total annoyance. I am a busy person. I am volunteering 30 hours a week. I have a job. I have a family to take care of, and a home to keep. I DO NOT have time for cancer. How will I do everything if I am undergoing cancer treatment?? OMG…Cancer Treatment. I’m going to lose my hair. I’m going to be sick. I am going to be irradiated…”

2

“We told them that night. The 5 year old was concerned and quiet. He knew it was something bad by the expressions on our faces, no matter how positive a spin we put on it. The 11 year old asked a lot of questions and was strong and amazingly positive. We all cried a little, laughed a little and began to try on for size these startlingly new feelings we’d all been given that day. I was worried that my littlest lovebug was going to be afraid of me with no hair. And selfishly, I knew how much I was going to need his hugs and affection to keep me going through the dark days ahead. Sure enough, his first prayer with me that night was an urgent appeal that Mommy not lose her hair. I bought books about mommies who were going through cancer treatment. He didn’t like reading them. I didn’t either. It may have helped us both, regardless.”
10
“Ironically, the one thing I was never conflicted about, was losing my breasts. I know that this is a huge decision for some women. Choosing mastectomy over lumpectomy. Results are similar in terms of cancer cure rates when you are diagnosed at an early stage. But I knew immediately, I would be having a double mastectomy, and I would be OK without that body part. I didn’t even want reconstruction. I would be flat and beautiful, it would be fine. The Doctors, the nurses, the family, all gently, gradually convinced me, that it would be OKAY to reconstruct. That it wasn’t vanity. That it was prosthetic. I reluctantly submitted to reconstruction. It was painful, it is still painful. It is the one thing I second guess about this whole process. The only thing really. A part of me that isn’t really me.”
13
“I have always struggled with my weight. At the time of diagnosis I was two and a half years into a weight loss of nearly 50 pounds with more than 40 left to go. I had experienced every level of body self-image problem through the years. I had alternatively rejoiced in my ability to breastfeed my children and lamented the post baby weight that clung stubbornly. And now what will happen? What does cancer do to my body?”
8
“As I was processing the landscape of breast cancer treatment, researching, deciding, coming to realizations, the one thing that bound all of my decision making together? My boys. If one option was slightly more aggressive than another? I did it. I have to live to see them grow. It repeated itself over and over throughout my treatment. Mastectomy over lumpectomy. Radiation over no radiation. Total hysterectomy to starve the cancer of needed hormones? Done. All very personal decisions. Another woman might find complete peace with more moderate treatments. I utterly respect that. And the research supports her decisions. I just know myself. I couldn’t live with a single ounce of doubt. I did it all. And then some.”
6
“I exercised almost every single day. Even chemo days. Especially chemo days. I ate as much healthy food as I could, I researched and instituted a regimen of supplements and vitamins. I took up yoga and jogging and juicing for Pete’s sake. Anything to improve my condition and help me recover faster from my repeated surgeries and return to my family a whole and healthy human being. I was, if nothing else, determined. For them. For me. These efforts were as important to my mind as they were to my body as I proceeded through treatment.”

1

 

“And I made it through. I lost my hair, I wore scarves and wigs and survived that temporary indignity. Turns out I love my hair short. I was irradiated. It wasn’t that bad. Really. I was exhausted and ill and out sorts some of the time. But you know what? My oldest son really stepped up to the plate and took over for me on nights when daddy was working and I couldn’t stand up for another minute. I was, and am, so proud of the independence that developed in him.”

 

12

“Cancer has been an amazing journey for me. My body and soul are forever changed. There are moments I wish I hadn’t had to endure, and yet, who would I be today without them? My boys, my husband, my friends, saw me through so much, were so strong, and held me up with so much love. I am well today. I live in THIS moment. With THIS amazing, resilient, gift of a body. I am no one without it, and I came so close to losing it. I respect this body for its abilities and I acknowledge its limitations. We’re good, this body and I. We’re good.”

 3

11         2015

9

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