My Cancer Journey
In October 2016, at age 33, I was diagnosed with Stage 1, Grade 2-3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Lana was 18 months old, and a month or so earlier I had found the lump while breastfeeding. Nothing of note, I was sure. A little lima beany bump on the inside of my right breast, near my sternum. A blocked duct, I figured. But after noticing it for several weeks, I made an appointment with my doctor, and within the week, I was being shuttled through the machine of modern medicine, a bonafide Cancer Patient. It was at once surreal and confusing and heart-wrenching. (My mom was on vacation with her best friend when I got the news, and I’m not sure there will ever be a harder phone call I’ll have to make. Or at least I certainly hope not.) And despite my “early stage” diagnosis, my mind went to the darkest of places.
Over the next 16 months, I underwent a single mastectomy, port placement, fertility preservation, chemotherapy (6 rounds of TCHP, for those interested in the details), immunotherapy, reconstructive surgery and two small procedures related to ulcers that arose as a result of chemo. We leaned on our friends and family a lot, and as a silver lining, Lana’s relationship with all her grandparents is something more special than we ever could have imagined. Because of that, it’s tempting to say I wouldn’t change a thing. But I’m not sure that’s exactly right.
I’ve always aimed to maintain transparency across this space, first about my struggles with comma overusage and reality television (the shit you think is important until it isn’t *facepalm*). And then motherhood. And now, cancer. While it’s technically gone from my body — or so I am told — I don’t think cancer will ever not be a part of my life. For one, there’s a whole new breed of anxiety that slips its hand into your pocket once you’re no longer actively receiving treatment. A gentle, tugging reminder that your body betrayed you once before and could do it again: bigger, badder. And then there’s this new head of short, unruly curls to contend with — something between Annie and Bob Ross and my tiny, feisty Paw Paw when she was rocking a fresh perm. Which is maybe the best thing that’s come out of this at all. ♥
I relied (and continue to rely) so heavily on the insight and experiences of others throughout my diagnosis and treatment, so if you have questions about either, or just want to shoot the cancer shit, I invite you to reach me here.
For more about my initial diagnosis, see this post.
For my account of the shitshow that was chemotherapy, see this post.
image credit: Kait Miller