Just this once will I note the passing of the day that changed my life and my family’s life forever – May 18th. That’s the day I received the phone call that my biopsy results were in and I had invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer. Looking back it seems like years and years ago, but I clearly remember I wasn’t too upset or shocked. I had already decided if I had the breast cancer gene (which I don’t) that I’d do a double mastectomy and get new breasts as a little bonus. But a few days later, while sitting outside the community center waiting for my son, I got another phone call. I was HER2 positive. What? That meant chemo. And an entire YEAR of immunotherapy treatments. That was not a good day.
I’ve detailed all the ups and down so won’t rehash any of those disasters but also realize I didn’t understand exactly how long a year was. Sounds funny now, but I was very focused on “just get through chemo.” After those 12 weeks ended I was so relieved knowing that I’d finished the worst part.
Everyone said the immunotherapy would be a “walk in the park” compared to chemo. Well that’s mostly true, at least physically. But the hardest part of this year is not the physical side effects. It’s the emotional roller coaster which keeps dragging on and on. It hits me every 3 weeks when I return to the same infusion lab, sit in the same rooms, with the same stupid port in my chest, getting hooked up to the same IVs, talking to the same wonderful nurses, waiting for the same medicine (minus the chemo). Each time I think that I am SO over this!!
I’m not a “patient” patient. I want to move forward, put this whole thing BEHIND me. But every three weeks I get a friendly reminder it isn’t over. Everyday I look in the mirror and see my heinous port. I feel it each time I toss and turn at night, put on clothes or grab my purse. I won’t feel like I can move forward and say “I’m cancer free!” until the port is gone and the last drop of Herceptin has entered my body. My oncologist thinks I’ll wrap this up in September but we only schedule 3 months at a time so no set date yet.
2017 is and will continue to be a great year. I got to see my beloved Tar Heels in the Sweet 16 along with my youngest Mack who saw his first UNC college basketball game. And of course we got to celebrate the Tar Heels winning the national basketball championship!!!! AGAIN!!!
I had my final reconstruction surgery so can finally exercise woohoo! Who knew I’d be excited to exercise? (Other side note: apparently the chemo + steroids + tamoxifen causes some i.e. Me to gain weight. Yep that’s me keeping my Murphy appetite throughout this ordeal!)
I get to go to France in July with great friends! I will turn 50 (GULP) in August. And I get to see Hamilton with the family!
But the best part of this year – and really last year too – is the new appreciation I’ve gained for friends and family. (And of course health insurance but that’s another topic for another day.) I’ve been so lucky to be able to work with my two amazing sisters on the KMZ Foundation and give back to many worthy nonprofits. (Check us out at http://www.kmzfoundation.com!) My husband has gone above and beyond in supporting me, and my boys are the same crazy 11 & 13 year old boys from last year which is EXACTLY what I wanted to see. My mom has continued to be the ultimate positive thinker and makes everyone around her happy. And friends seem to reach out at the precise time I’m feeling low and need a pick me up. And Rudy my beloved dog is just as cute and cuddly as ever and helps motivate me to get OUTSIDE which always makes me feel good.
So I mark the passing of this pivotal day just once and look forward to the real celebrations to come this summer and fall. And I’ll continue to say #FU2cancer especially when trying to get my sorry butt to workout! (remember F can be for forget!)