I went in for the routine mammogram and felt the tiniest spot on my inner right breast. After ultrasound and biopsy determined that it was cancer, I began my adventure. I chose the bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction first. Surgery determined no node involvement, early stage but triple positive. After talking with three oncologists, I decided to do the dreaded chemo for extra insurance. I was lucky to find it so early, to have great insurance and phenomenal care. It was one of the easier scenarios one could wish for, but it was challenging. I finished my last taxol 6 months after diagnosis and I will have Herceptin for another year but I am alive and relieved to be finished with chemotherapy.
For me, this was a whirlwind. When I first found out, it was like an earthquake with aftershocks. My adrenaline drove me to be organized and laser focused on understanding my options and what they would mean. I am happy to say that as hard as it was, I have no regrets with any of my choices. It was heartbreaking to lost my nipples which once fed my child and seemed like my fingerprint, so personal. The amputation of my chest is something I am still adjusting to. My subpectoral implants offer curve to my body but impede upper body strength that I need to rehabilitate.
Having breast cancer brought me closer to my mortality and gave me a respect for the impermanence of my existence. I feel braver now to deal with what is to come, whatever that may be. I drew my strength off of my imagination, I surrounded myself with comfort, beauty, and dear friends who were so generous with magical, kind spirit. I found comfort in support group and volunteers offered great advice about wigs and makeup and looking well to feel well. It is very true. Many times I didn’t want to wear a hat, wig or makeup but I noticed that looking sick does make you feel sick. I now have new friends and some I can help by sharing my experience. I feel that the number one emotion I needed to keep at bay was fear. I found that fear wasn’t helping at all and a lot of it was of the unknown. I would like to help others avoid some of the fear by sharing what I learned, like my first day of chemo, my week post op from mastectomy, down days in bed and moments in the street when people make strange comments. This experience was incredibly humbling but also empowering, I learned a lot about human nature, fear and the power of kindness.