Holy Smokes everyone! You can sure make a girl feel spectacular! The word “overwhelming” doesn’t even begin to describe what yesterday was for me. The outpouring of support and encouragement and compassion was all-encompassing. I struggled for a long time deciding whether I wanted to go public with such a private matter but hearing your stories has been the best affirmation that I made the right choice. I spent the day laughing, crying, sending up prayers for you all, and reading each and every comment you posted. I’m so inspired by your stories. Every time I read “I was 26…”, “…Diagnosed at 32”, “I have two beautiful children now”, “I love my new hair!” I felt the most powerful wind at my back, lifting me and surrounding me with so much comfort and excitement! “It’s a sorority nobody wants to join, but we got picked!” said Kristi in one of the comments. Ain’t that the truth! I’m so humbled to have you all as my “sisters”.
As you can see from the photo below, the “Couture” part of this blog is coming later. In fact, the next few posts will likely be more expository while I catch you all up on the details. My mind is racing with post ideas based on all your feedback, plus I’ve had many fashion people approach me over the last 24 hours so I’m over the moon about what beautiful things I’m going to get to try and share. But first, I’m going to unleash some of the posts I’ve already written. They’ll be coming pretty quick so I hope you’re ready! Besides, I can’t quite delve into my tips and fashion findings until I know what I’m up against with this treatment. But trust me, I’ve got big plans! So in the meantime, Chemo first, Couture to follow!
Here I am. Day one of my chemo journey.
“Are you nervous?”-asked the sweet, mild mannered nurse as she took me up the elevator.
“No, not really. I’m ready. Lets do this”- I replied.
“Cuz it’s ok to be nervous”
But I’m not. I’m ready. The truth is, I had been preparing for this moment for months and short of having war paint on my face, I couldn’t have been more poised to kick ass.
As I mentioned before, I spent a lot of energy trying to avoid chemo. In my particular case, my tumor is an estrogen receptor-positive tumor (H2-) which means it’s feeding on my own hormones. I also immediately did genetic counseling and am not a BRCA1, 2, or P53 carrier. No history in my family either but that’s not surprising since both my mother and father had all brothers, although breast cancer in men is possible as well. Based on all these facts, the original plan my doctors cooked up was to put me into medically induced menopause and to eliminate estrogen from my body. The list of fears that a non-estrogen existence created was endless: was I gonna grow a beard? What about hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain? I’m telling you ladies, estrogen is an awesome thing. How was I supposed to live without it? Every woman of a certain age goes through it but very few do it in one day like I did. But I actually handled it very well and to be honest, I’m quite enjoying it. I’m more even-keeled without the monthly spike of hormones and I’m saving a ton of cash on tampons. I was able to continue to work, keep my hair, and still feel energized and healthy while feeling like I was saving my body some major stress.
The ultimate problem with this plan came a few months later when we realized it wasn’t working. Despite all my doctors telling me the tumor felt smaller, an MRI revealed the bugger hadn’t budged. I realize I failed to mention earlier that my carcinogenic roommate is a whopping 8cm. 8 by 6 by 5.5 to be exact. I have had barely A breasts my whole life so basically I have a boob inside my boob. Front to back and left to right. This was what made it difficult to diagnose since it just looked like extremely dense breast tissue. When people hear that it hasn’t spread to my lymph nodes they always say, “Oh I’m so glad they caught it early”. To which I wanna scream “THEY DIDN’T!”. I have been doing regular check ups since age 25 because of my cystic breast. I was having yearly ultrasounds because of two lumps that didn’t go away. Everyone dismissed them as cysts because no one is looking for breast cancer at that age. When blood started coming out of my nipple they thought it was just clogged ducts. Even a mammogram was inconclusive. The only truth came from a biopsy. Turns out those lumps were tiny cysts resting on top of a giant beast. I don’t want any more women in their 2o’s or 30’s to have to wait to see blood to be able to get a proper diagnosis. You readers are now an army of proof that something has to change.
That all being said, it is a slow grower since it’s been living in me for around five years and hasn’t mutated and for that I am incredibly lucky. I’m grateful for so many aspects of how my tumor and treatment have played out and this is one of them. I have a slow enough growing tumor that we had time to experiment. So by the time the ultimate decision had to be made, I had been allowed months to fight and wrestle with the idea of what chemo would mean to me, to my future children, to my current body. I had time to spend Christmas with my family before everything changed. I had the smarts to book a last minute trip to Europe with my amazing and adorable boyfriend for a “Chemo-moon”, to enjoy each other before every conversation was going to be about nausea. And because of a delayed flight home, I literally landed at 4:30am, took a three hour nap, and rolled into my first chemo treatment like a rockstar after a bender. Just the way I wanted it.
So after months of basically having the Rocky theme song on loop in my head while I geared up for the fight of my life, you can imagine my surprise when the premeds they gave me knocked me out cold. I slept through the whole five hours. Can’t remember a thing. Thank goodness my mom was there to tell me what a total mess I am while drunk on chemo. Imagine every wisdom teeth video you’ve ever seen on Youtube and add in that I’m surrounded by about 30 people who are judging the new lightweight in the room. Like I said, the “couture” aspect is taking a serious hit at the moment. But never fear: the nurse told me my hair will be falling out in two weeks and to plan a haircut. Stay tuned! I’m coming at you with a new look. Just as soon as I wake up.