Monday, February 17, 2014


Most days I have unwavering faith that I will be cured. Up until about a week ago, I felt like I was already better.  I had convinced myself that I was already on the other side of cancer. Hell, I still hadn't even acknowledged to myself that I have cancer.

And then I had a moment of doubt. I was standing in Five Guys Burgers last night with my wig on, having a hot flash while waiting for my order. I looked around the restaurant and I thought to myself, "I look like anyone else in here, but they don't know what I'm going through.  I have cancer. In just a few days,  I'm going to have one of my breasts removed."  And although it seemed like just an insignificant thought, because we all are going through something personal, it seemed so huge to me.  It was like it was the first time it actually hit me that I have cancer.  And my eyes welled at the realization.

Unless you have been here, in this situation, you have no idea what it is like.  It's weird, and difficult, and scary.  Aside from the physical effects, the changed perspective on life is a big adjustment.  Add a major hormonal shift, and that is a recipe for serious life changes.  The things that were once important in my life are not the same now.  Everything has changed, my feelings, my reactions, my priorities, and my expectations of others.

People have often said, "You learn who your true friends are",  and I never understood how things could change that drastically.  Before, I would look at people in this situation and think, "How could people lose friends? What is it that people do to end a friendship?" and I just didn't get it until now.

But it happens. and it's a combination of things that culminate to make my decisions now.  First, it's like the filters you put on a photo to change how you see a picture. I started to view people in my life with this special perspective filter, and it's like I see the truth in people's intentions.

I have found that real friends genuinely want to be there for me, help me, and support me without need for recognition or repayment.  Especially at a time in my life that I am forced to ask for help, that has lifted me in a way that I can never repay (but will try).  There are even little things people do to go out of their way to make sure I know that I'm not forgotten, even when I've been couped up in the house for weeks, with only the occasional doctor's appointment to get me out.  And I have never been more thankful in my life for such blessings.

I am fighting with effects on my body. I'm fighting against cancer. I'm fighting against people that try to use me or control me. I'm fighting for my children.  I'm fighting fear of the treatment not working.  I'm fighting a flood of emotions every hour.  Fighting cancer has put me in fight mode for my very being now. It seems to be an on/off switch.  And it's on...

Some days I look at my responses to situations and don't recognize myself.  I admit that sometimes I overreact, partly because of the hormones, and partly because I no longer have patience for things that affect me negatively.  But it's the fight and fear.  I don't look for problems, but I don't sit by and let things just "happen" to me anymore either.  I will not be a wilting violet.

My decisions now include the phrase "Does this matter in the end?". I don't worry about the petty things, the daily things, the mundane things.  I don't have time to waste on anything but getting myself better, loving my children, my family, and the people in my life that truly care about me and know that I care about them.  The most important thing I try to remind myself, and say to my daughter all the time, is, "Always tell the truth.  Always be kind.  And always do the right thing." In the end, those are the things that matter... and the actions to which you will be held accountable.

I know that people survive every day from cancer.  I know that surviving requires a positive attitude. I'm not naive either; I know things don't always work out the way we hope or plan.  It's not just hard to deal with side effects, tests, and surgery, it's scary as hell to wonder if you have months versus decades, and it all comes down to the next test result.

And as I await the results of my breast MRI from last week, I look back on how my perspective has changed over these past five months since being diagnosed with cancer.  I believe that I've grown so much.  I have more compassion and empathy for those who suffer.  I have more respect for those that have fought and come out stronger.  I have more drive to be a better person and example for my children.  And I have more fight to live than I ever thought I would.  It requires endurance of the body and soul to get up and fight every day, but I won't give up.  And I couldn't do any of it without the love and support of my family and friends. 


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story with Rita's pharm IV class! It has been amazing to read and has touched me. We are rooting for you!! Stay strong!