Breast Cancer: What Goes Lump In The Night?
In July of 2017 I was a perfectly healthy 29 year old newly engaged woman with major baby fever. By August 2nd I was a breast cancer patient meeting with a surgeon who used words like “outcomes” and “chances of survival”, learning that I would be given every breast cancer treatment in the book which might leave me infertile.
Since then I’ve had surgery, six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and 21 radiation treatments, all of which have wreaked havoc on my body. Now that active treatment has come to an end, my physical strength returning, my hair growing back, I think most people assume that cancer is now something I’ve conquered and put in my rear-view mirror. In reality, I think I’m only now starting to process the trauma that I’ve been through and am now facing the biggest challenge yet, finding and adjusting to my “new normal”. The “new normal” looks a lot like the old one to anyone looking in, but it’s plagued with lingering chemo side effects (brain fog, fatigue) and constant anxiety. Not to mention, I walk around with a metaphorical tattoo on my forehead in the form of an awkward haircut that seems to read “I HAD CANCER PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT IT”.
Before this shit show started, I felt so certain about how my life was going to unfold. I was blissfully ignorant to the idea that anything, let alone a life threatening illness, could derail my five year plan. Obviously, I know this certainty was never real, but I miss looking forward to the future and seeing only the good.
Breast cancer has changed me, in many ways for the better. I have a different perspective now on what is important to me and what aspects of my life are most deserving of my time and effort and I am grateful to have been given this gift now, while I have so many years ahead to apply it. Breast cancer has taught me empathy. Because of this disease, I am a better, kinder, more patient person and I can connect with people in a deeper more meaningful way. Breast cancer has taught me how to be vulnerable, how to how to ask for and accept help and it has opened my eyes to how much love and support I have in my life.
I want to thank Brian, Taylor and Jeremie for giving me the opportunity to talk about this experience publicly. Acknowledging (and laughing about!) some of the most difficult moments of the past year and a half has been truly cathartic. You guys are killing it, and I wish Sickboy Podcast every success.
Finally, I want to throw out one final reminder that CANCER DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE. Breast cancer in younger women is a lot more common that people realize and because we don’t get regular mammograms it’s often not diagnosed until it’s at a later stage. So… EVERYONE HAS TO CHECK THEIR BOOBS!