I was 36 years old and in the prime of my life when my breast cancer story began. I had a great job as a shareholder at Carr Allison Law Firm, three precious little kids, a loving husband, a big boisterous extended family and fun, hilarious friends. I had just returned from a football filled weekend in September 2016 when I found the lump in the shower. I broke into a cold sweat. I made my husband feel it to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating – he felt it, too. Despite my fear, I sprang into action and went through all the proper testing, concluding with a biopsy. I got “the call” at work. It was the most devastating moment of my life, yet looking back, it was just the beginning of a life-changing journey.
My medical team was spearheaded by both Shelby Blank, MD and Karen Russell, MD. Both physicians helped me decipher my early test results, strategically working out a surgical and treatment plan with me. Dr. Blank assured me my prognosis was good, comforting me with “This is just part of your story now.” I felt empowered – my team had a plan and I knew we could do this.
However, the toughest part of this whole adventure was telling my loved ones the news – enduring their own scared reactions, and initially not having any answers for them. At the time, my daughter was six and my twin boys were four. They accepted the news and, to my astonishment, handled my hair loss and physical changes like champions. From reassuring me that I looked pretty when I nervously wore my scarves and wigs, to fanning me with the nearest object whenever I had a hot flash from the treatment; they were my biggest cheerleaders.
My loved ones have often asked why this happened to me. I have no family history and have always been in good health, so my belief is that it is because I’ve been equipped to fight this since day one. I am now navigating the next phase of life as a cancer survivor. I am different, but better. My hair is curlier, and my perspective is much broader. I find fulfillment in reaching out and helping current patients through their journey – whether answering questions, accompanying them to treatments or just being a sounding board for venting.
At the end of the day, a lot of good has come into my life from this process and I am thankful for every day. Have I beaten cancer forever? The truth is we don’t know, and that’s ok. I hope and pray the day comes when I can say I have beaten cancer, because we as a community have beaten cancer, and found a cure.
With love and gratitude,