December 2015, just 3 weeks after my 43rd birthday and after discovering a lump on my left breast, I learned I had breast cancer.
I didn’t react when my doctor relayed the news, because my 2-year-old son got a hold of thumbtacks and spilled them over the kitchen floor. I had to briefly put the phone down while picking up the thumbtacks. The doctor proceeded with more information, but I had to stop the conversation again, when my son discovered another thumbtack and put it in his mouth, again. He started crying, I panicked, and so it went. We finally made an appointment to discuss my treatment plan.
On any other day, my husband would’ve been home from work, but he was at the dentist, so I told him the news first via text, then made phone calls to my mother, sister, and my best friend of 30 years. I cried a little while delivering the news, but I didn’t want my son to see me upset, so I acted as if nothing was wrong. When my husband came home, we hugged and I said, “I know I will be okay: we caught it early.”
Back to Normal?
The next day I continued my normal part-time work routine from home. With my son playing in the background, everything felt normal, or maybe I just didn’t want to deal with the news. I put my son down for his nap and continued working.
A close family friend stopped by, sat next to me, and asked, “How are you doing?” At that point I lost it and broke down: I was truly scared. After my friend left, I dropped down to my knees and continued to cry, asking, “Why me?”
I texted my sister to come over, saying I needed a hug and a prayer. She dropped everything and came over. She hugged me, holding my hands and saying the most beautiful, inspirational, and personal prayer.
Taking Control and Letting Go
I felt instant calmness as I closed my eyes, and while the tears rolled down, I knew I was going to be okay, and had a choice to make: continue to wallow in depression, or be strong and remain positive–live for the moment and not be afraid.
The following days and weeks I was preparing myself mentally and physically. I had given up animal protein almost 10 months earlier, and was working out 6 days a week. In fact, in 2009 I was diagnosed with a benign meningioma brain tumor, which made me change my diet, and I’ve been getting yearly brain MRIs until after the birth of my son, during which period the tumor was growing. I am determined to shrink this brain tumor or completely eliminate it through good nutrition, exercise, and faith.
Back to the other inconvenience–breast cancer. After reviewing my tests with the breast surgeon, I realized I had 2 types of cancer in my left breast–invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma, the 2 most common types of breast cancer. At first I was given the option of lumpectomy or mastectomy, but after further review of my MRIs, mastectomy was my only option. Although the cancer was stage II, the tumors were slow-growing, which was the one positive side to this. A genetic test for BRCA was negative.
2 Breasts or Not 2 Breasts?
After much deliberation, I decided to have double mastectomy: January 18, 2016, was the beginning of the healing process. With almost 6 hours of surgery, the best news was that the cancer didn’t spread to my lymph nodes; the test was negative and clean. No radiation or chemo needed. I truly believe that during the weeks leading to my surgery I was speeding up the healing process through diet, holistic remedies, and prayers from all family and friends. I declared myself cancer-free on that day.
The first 2 weeks postsurgery were a challenge caring for a toddler, but I had the best support team–my husband and my mom, who stayed with us during those 2 weeks. I was off pain medicine in 9 days.
I continued drinking my green smoothies and resumed my homeopathic remedies, and researched and read healing stories of other strong people who have gone or are going through similar situations, and an inspiring book of people who conquered cancer.
I also read powerful scriptures and proverbs that touched me. I hadn’t picked up a bible in 30 years, so having this powerful reintroduction to faith was amazing. I ended each evening with a healing meditation to ease me into sleep. Even today, I continue this daily and nightly ritual, which has helped me emotionally and spiritually.
People told me that I was an inspiration to them, but people were inspiring me to remain strong, confident, and positive, and most important, continue to have humor. I am blessed and grateful for this life, and for this fresh new start. I created a blog I call “In Common We Inspire” (www.incommonweinspire.com). The goal was to share my story and spread inspiration, to inspire others to share their stories.
It amazes me that there can be such a connection and an immediate bond between 2 complete strangers after hearing their story, to find out you’re not alone.
I hold 3 powerful words dear–persevere, heal, inspire: this is my new purpose in life. We are here in this world and journey together, and in common we inspire to change lives forever.