"I’ve had to relinquish my Type A tendencies to control the trajectory of life and take each day much more slowly."
I’m 38, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. I’m a lawyer and worked hard all my life to be successful. Yes, I certainly didn’t always take the best care of myself but I was generally very heathy. I was even more focused on my health during my pregnancies and then while breastfeeding.
I was tandem nursing my two boys (4 and 2) when I felt a lump in my left breast in January of 2017. I thought it was a clog, my IBCLC thought it was a clog and so did my PCP. My PCP is very breastfeeding friendly but she felt it warranted my first mammogram even though she said she was 95% sure it was nothing. I’m so thankful she did.
After the biopsy came back, I had to abruptly wean my boys and became a professional patient. The amount of doctors and appointments and treatment is overwhelming. I joined several Facebook support groups and read everything I could find. My husband and I felt like we had taken a crash course in another language and culture.
First survey was April 11th. I was already limping at this point but we didn’t see any evidence (and neither did the doctors) that my cancer had spread beyond my breast. So, lumpectomy, node negative, clean margins and we thought life would get back to “normal”. Chemo was a possibility but didn’t seem likely.
Testing on the tumor that was removed came back in the moderate risk category for reoccurrence and so we elected to include chemo in my treatment. After my first chemo treatment my doctor called me over the weekend to say that something came back concerning and I needed more tests.
June 22nd we learned that my cancer had spread through my blood and into my bones. I was limping because I had a 5 cm tumor in my right femur.
I’ve had titanium rods inserted in both femurs, a complete hysterectomy (Ovaries, uterus, tubes, all my lady parts were removed), I’ve lost my hair, I’m in menopause at the age of 38, I’ve scars all over my body and I regularly have intense pain that prevents me from various “normal” functions. I’ve been restricted from lifting my precious boys for months. I’ve had to close my Law practice and learn about disability options.
I don’t recognize my life.
Over the last few months I’ve had a variety of emotions. I’ve been told some of the most amazing things and found a support system that I never knew could exist. Total strangers get me in a way I could never have imagined. I’ve grown closer to my family, especially my mom who is a breast cancer survivor herself. I’ve been told some awful things, people around me have been horribly insensitive, I’ve experienced betrayal and malice from the most unexpected places.
I don’t recognize the people around me.
Outside of my amazingly supportive husband, precious children and my family, the only relationship I still recognize is with God. I don’t know how I could accommodate the affect of a terminal diagnosis outside of my certainty that God has a plan for me and my children. I don’t want them to grow up without me. Any time I start to fret about what that looks like, I can’t breathe.
At the end of the day, I’ve had to relinquish my Type A tendencies to control the trajectory of life and take each day much more slowly. To be present now in the lives of my boys. To cherish my husband and family. I don’t know what the future holds or how long my current medication will work, but that’s not something I can do anything about so I put it out of my mind as much as possible. I have, of course, updated my will and trust and am almost finished planning my funeral and end of life arrangements… I did say I have type A tendencies, right?