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Friday, September 19, 2014

365 Days

I have wanted to start a blog and today seems to be the most fitting day for my first entry. Today is my one year “cancerversary”. Not exactly something to celebrate- “Yippee I had cancer!”, but I am celebrating because I am still here, still playing with my kids, still being a wife, a friend, a co-worker, a daughter, a woman. The past 365 days have undoubtedly been the hardest of my life. A year ago today, at 3 pm, I was told the devastating news that I, at only 34 years old, had breast cancer. It is a day that I will never forget, a day that changed me forever. That was just the beginning. The next day I had an MRI, I nearly passed out when they gave me the IV since I hadn’t been eating or drinking much the past week. I was unable to do the MRI because of nerves and had to reschedule it for the next day. I also had appointments for genetic testing/counseling, reconstruction, general surgery to decide on my path forward, oncology, and radiology. On top of this I continued to work and take care of my girls (ages 4 and 2 at the time). I chose to have a mastectomy on my right side with a tissue expander put in place at the time of the mastectomy, this wasn’t for aesthetic reasons as much as I just didn’t want to have more surgeries than necessary. On October 17th I had my mastectomy and received good news, no cancer was found in my lymph nodes and they got clear margins, in other words they felt confident that I was cancer free. A few weeks later I had a port put in and started chemotherapy. January 23rd I completed chemo. I am now on a drug called Tamoxifen for the next 10 years, it comes with its own fun bag of side effects but I am one of the lucky ones that it isn’t debilitating for. I did not and do not feel sorry for myself, sure I have cried – a lot, but I didn’t really ask “why me” cause, why not me? No one is exempt from cancer. Cancer sucks, big time. I chose to find the good in it so I wouldn’t spiral into depression which I felt myself heading toward (that and I take a nice dose of Lexapro). I made more tasteless jokes (about being bald, having only one boob, my eyelashes falling out, weight gain… on chemo!!etc) than a comedian at stand-up. Not that they were good jokes, but I felt like it took the edge off. One thing I wanted was for people to not avoid me. I had cancer, not chicken pox, last I heard you couldn’t catch it from me. Once I completed chemo people treated me like it was over and in their minds it is. I am often asked did the chemo work? Hell, I hope so! But honestly I don’t know, I have never had scans to see if it is anywhere else. So if you are reading this here is a hint – it isn’t over. I think about it every day. Every morning and every night and all times in between it is there, a wonderful analogy I heard is it is the pink elephant in the room. When I hear of someone else being diagnosed I cry for them, when I find out someone died from cancer I mourn. Today is my cancerversary. I survived. I honestly did not know if I would make it to today. I do not know if I will make it to tomorrow, but no one does. I find joy in things others would find to be trivial. So even though a year ago I heard the worst news of my life today I am going to celebrate like there is no tomorrow.