×

CaringBridge Needs Your Help

Make a gift to CaringBridge in honor of Amy and you’ll help even more people surround each other with love and support this holiday season. Donate Now

Amy’s Story

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We've created it to keep friends and family updated about Amy's journey. Get started by reading the Background Story on the "My Story" tab.

Visit often to read the latest journal entries, visit the photo gallery, and write us a note in our guestbook.



On Thursday, December 23rd, 2010, I found a large lump in my right breast. I visited my OB/GYN that afternoon and was told it was probably a cyst, but they wanted to schedule an ultrasound to be sure. The ultrasound was scheduled for Monday, December 27th. I enjoyed the holidays with visiting relatives and lots of family gatherings, not worrying too much about the "cyst." But the ultrasound showed a solid mass, not a cyst. It also located an enlarged lymph node. Everything changed. A needle core biopsy was scheduled for Tuesday, January 4th. It was the longest week of my life, every minute dragging until the appointment. It would be 48 hours until the results came back from the lab.

On Thursday, January 6th, 2011, with Dave at my side, I was told I have breast cancer - infiltrating ductal carcinoma. Our worst fears had come true. The world closed in for a while. But we are lucky enough to have an amazing team of health professionals working to cure me.

Our Nurse Navigator, Kim, spoke to us for an hour that afternoon, repeating things many times as we tried to take it in. She has helped guide us through all of the appointments, the paperwork, the terminology and the fear. She is my advocate, scheduling me with the best doctors, and calling me as soon as my test results are in.

Dave is my teammate, my partner, and my strength. We are getting through this together. Ben and Matt are my reasons, my comedy relief, my unconditional loves. They are surprisingly strong.  They lift me up.

Our family and friends have surrounded us in love, prayer, and support.  I could not make this journey alone.  I am so thankful for all of you.  Please keep the positive thoughts and prayers coming.  They are working!

Latest Journal Update

Seasons

It’s
been a long time since my last update.  My life has returned to
“normal” and things have been busy, busy, busy!  But this is a new
normal.  My life will never be the same.  Neither will the lives of
those closest to me.  Our world has been rocked ... shifted ... redirected.
 There are no answers to the “why” questions, so we do our best to
accept what has happened and what has resulted and we go on.  As you
might have guessed, I have been oscillating between positive and
negative feelings about my journey.


I
“completed” all of the major events and recoveries of my journey about 6
months ago.  I’ve spent the time since then comprehending what that
journey actually was.  There are things that, when diagnosed, you just
cannot dwell on until you are through the process of physical healing.
 But you must really face them - and accept them - to finish healing
your mind and soul.  It’s a very personal trial.  I am lucky in that I
have a close friend whom I met at the beginning of my treatment and we
went through treatment together.  I can talk to her about these things
and know that she truly does understand because she is on the same path.
 I am not thankful that we both had cancer, but I am thankful that we
connected because of it and have each other for support.


Here
is what I am working through right now:  At the age of 40, I was
diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.  The big C.  F*cking
CANCER.  When I found the lump, it was about 1cm long.  By the time I
started chemotherapy 1 month later, it was 5.5 cm long.  My cancer was
EXTREMELY aggressive.  Terrifyingly so.  It’s numbing to think about.
 And because I am positive for a BRCA-1 mutation, I am predisposed to
this particular type of cancer.  The chemotherapy worked.  And it worked
amazingly well, killing all detectable cancer cells.  After my
mastectomies, the pathology came back pCR - pathologic complete
response.  No. More. Cancer.  But I have had my lifetime dose of one of
the chemo drugs.  If I were to be diagnosed with cancer again, I could
not have the same cancer-a*s-kicking treatment.  That is panic-inducing
for me.  The positive side of me says, “Amy, they are discovering new
treatments and therapies all the time!  Don’t worry!”  Ok.  Easier
thought than done.


So
to reduce my risk of another bout with cancer - because I DO NOT want
to fight it again - I had both breasts removed.  Gone.  I cannot
describe the de-feminizing of the psyche that comes with that procedure.
 I know there are women who are ok with it and never get
reconstruction, but I am not one of those women.  And I know I am more
than my breasts and that I am still a woman with or without them, but
when I looked at my body without them I could not believe that.  I think
I hid it pretty well, but I felt humiliated.  I didn’t recognize the
feeling at the time, I just knew it was not a nice thing to feel.


I
needed reconstruction to heal my soul.  And it has.  I feel so much
better about myself now.  I have moments where I struggle with the
scars, and the lack of sensation, and the weakness in my shoulder and my
abs, but overall I am happy with the results.  I feel like a woman
again.


It’s
funny.  After I healed from my reconstruction surgery, Spring arrived.
 I felt reborn!  I was full of the promise of my “new” life.  Now I have
mellowed into a “dig in, figure out what you need” sort-of mindset and I
really feel that is reflected in Autumn.  This is the time to prepare -
for winter, for hibernation, for the solitude of frozen earth.  I feel
like I am “going through my inventory of emotions” and preparing
for...what?  Perhaps I am preparing for cancer to not be at the center
of my life anymore.  I need to organize and file all of the
thoughts/emotions associated with it.  Don’t get me wrong, I will always
be an advocate for cancer patients and a mentor and a survivor, but I
am no longer a patient.  I was a patient for so long - it did define me,
even though I didn’t admit it.  So now I need to clear my head, archive
some things that are taking up too much space.  Declutter.  But the
only way to do that is to look at those feelings, those memories, those
thoughts and understand them, accept them, complete them for a sense of
closure.


I
realize this post has been sort of negative, but it is all honest and
soul-deep.  There have been many positives in the last 6 months as
well!  I will talk about those in my next post.  And I will include some
pictures!


Thank
you for listening.  I love you all.  Please keep the good thoughts and
prayers flowing to those who are in need.  Good night.