Today, October 14, 2017 is officially 5 years since my diagnosis of early stage, estrogen and HER-2 positive invasive breast cancer. 5 years since discovering that even though you don’t carry the BRCA gene, it may still be hereditary - as my sister also died from metastatic breast cancer 7 years prior to my diagnosis.
It's been 5 years since a mammogram saved my life. I remember receiving the call from the doctor. "The biopsy results have come back - positive for breast cancer. You are scheduled for a lumpectomy next week. We will go from there." he said
5 years since the lumpectomy that found invasive breast cancer, and a new plan was formed.
5 years since meeting with multiple doctors and coming up with the plan: double mastectomy and chemo.
5 years since having to tell my 9 year old son that I had breast cancer and was going to lose my hair. To which he replied, “What? You are going to be bald?” “Yes,” I said. “Your friends are going to love it.” And, they did. And, he did. And I wore it proudly.
5 years since making the choice to accept what is versus resist the truth.
5 years since taking the power into my own hands and learning all I could about the disease, so I could make the best decisions for me.
AND, ultimately, 5 years of living life.
So much has happened in these past 5 years. I discovered that, for me, breast cancer is just a step in my journey. It did not stop life from happening around me and I did not allow it to stop me from living life.
Here is the truth in my journey:
In the first year after diagnosis there were surgeries, and doctors, and chemo, and hair loss, and lots of tears. And, during this time, I finished my MBA and got married to my supportive and loving husband. I gained a step-daughter, Brittany and adopted a 16 year-old, Skylar. I resigned from my executive position and went back to my consulting practice. My son is now 10. Brittany is off to college.
In the second year after diagnosis, I continued to be cancer free, although there were some concerns about my ovaries and uterus, so I underwent a full hysterectomy. I grew my business by 125% that year. A very good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. My son is now 11 and going into Middle School. Skylar is off to college.
In the third year after diagnosis, there were follow ups, concerns about my lungs, a diagnosis of sarcoidosis, but ultimately, I continued cancer free, healthy and grateful. I also continued growing my business and began writing a book for women, to be published in January 2018, entitled SheStrategy. Yes…has taken a couple years to complete, but we are on our way to the editor! 2 more friends were diagnosed with breast cancer. My son is now 12. The girls are in college and finding their way.
In the fourth year after diagnosis, I began the plan for my and my hubby’s new venture: Tees for Humanity: tees designed for giving back to our community, including cancer research, we launched in January 2017. I continued my path of being cancer free and helping women who were newly diagnosed. Three more friends were diagnosed with breast cancer. My son is now 13.
I am celebrating five years today – on this journey, of being cancer free. I’ve watched too many of my friends be diagnosed with the disease. I’ve taken calls and been a shoulder to cry on for many other women, referred by my doctors, who were diagnosed and having a difficult time. I listened. I allowed for their fear, their questions, their concerns. I held an open heart for their tears and I didn’t tell them all would be okay. I just listened and prayed for their journey to be one of health, open-hearted learning, and peace. Another friend, very close, was just diagnosed – Stage 3. I lost a bestie to Glioblastoma, this year.
My son is 14 this year and is starting high school. He is on the golf team and starting to think about college. Life is moving way too fast.
I’m understanding each and every day that Life goes on around us….no matter what is happening with us. It and I continue to evolve.
In the breast cancer journey, 5 years is a milestone, but it is not the end of the line. My sister’s cancer came back 7 years later, and she passed from the disease. Many of us have lost friends and family whose cancer came back, metastatic disease, stage 4, and many who are continuing to fight. I continue to pray.
I am celebrating 5 years today of being healthy, emotionally and physically. 5 years of living my life my way. 5 years of taking the power back from a disease that not only steals our boobs, but tends to steal our sense of peace.
Do I worry every day that my cancer will return? No. But, I would be lying if I said that I have no fear of it returning. I will, however, continue to control that which I can control. I will continue to be diligent about my health, my check-ups, my self- and body-awareness. I will continue to support research for prevention and for metastatic breast cancer (MBC), as MBC is what takes lives. I will continue to be a shoulder and hold the energy of courage and healing for those who are finding their way through their fight and their journey.
I will continue to fight, for those who are still fighting. And, since I cannot possibly control tomorrow, I will continue to live in today, moving forward, in the direction of my dreams.
And, I will continue to live, in acceptance of what is…and learn from the journey.