In mid February, I was scratching an itch on my left breast and I found a hard lump. On March 1st, 24 days before I was due to give birth, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer. To be specific, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma - an aggressive tumor in my left breast that had spread to 1 or 2 lymph nodes in my left armpit. Estrogen/Progesterone receptor positive, pregnancy was feeding my tumor. In a whirlwind of overwhelm, hormones and the C word, Shawn and I started navigating our new reality. How can I be happy and about to give birth and have Cancer at the same time? Hadn't I suffered enough loss this past year? How long will I be able to breast feed??? So many questions and so much fear and having to learn a whole new language. Over these two months, so many people I know - and many I don't know - have reached out to support me in spectacular ways and this new journey of ours has shown me so many blessings. I do not have the BRCA Gene. Although it has spread to my lymph node it is nowhere else in my body.
As of now treatment looks like Chemo every 3 weeks for 6 rounds, then surgery - a lumpectomy and removal of the effected lymphs and then radiation. Not the shortest or most beautiful road to take but hey, perhaps it actually is. Perhaps this is an opportunity to let go of some toxic ancestral baggage that needs actual poison to get rid of. I'm so grateful to have found it in the early stages of the Cancer and yet the late stage of my pregnancy. I got to carry to term and breastfeed my beautiful son for a month- 2 weeks longer than expected. Do I have bad days? Yes indeed. Am I terrified of how this is going to change the life of my 5 year old girl, you bet. This mixed bag of joy of a newborn and Mama having bad cells in her body is Adelaide's experience of having a new brother. Is that fair? Doesn't feel like it but it's here, it's on my plate and I can't send it back. So, shall I wallow in the pain and injustice of it, a little yes, but mostly I'm trying to smile in the face of it all, find the silver lining and enjoy the gifts.
So, for those of you wondering what Adelaide knows and how we've been talking to her about it, here it is. We have told her that I have bad cells in my body that have to be treated with strong medicine. We are talking to her about it slowly in a way that is appropriate for a 5 year old brain and emotional body to handle. Since my brother Craig passed away from Cancer in December, Adelaide knows Cancer to be a killer so we are not using the word in the house or anywhere near her. She is asking terrific questions and observing, as she does, in a truly heart opening way. We just recently told her that the medicine was so strong it was going to make my hair fall out and that's why I shaved my head. She has seemed to take it all in, in a wonderfully supportive and even humorous way - telling me I looked weird and like a troll. Little does she know that I AM a troll, my Swedish Grandpa always told me so. Though Cancer isn't in my gene pool, being a troll IS. If any of you were to come across Adelaide and she asked you questions or tells you about any of it, I would ask you to ask her questions in return to see what she knows and also to take in anything she tells you in a matter of fact way without adding any weight to it, if possible. She is definitely processing and I know I can't protect her from this, but I'd like to keep it open and information coming from us, her parents.
I love you all and will be adding journal entries and photos along the way. I will post my treatment schedule in the "Planner" section so you can see where I am, when I will have the most energy (the week before chemo) and the least (the week following chemo). Friends have also organized ways to help and support me that can be found, along with the planner, in the "Ways To Help" section. I love hearing from you, even if I'm not able to respond quickly. Please know that your well wishes, experience, and words have landed in my heart and are helping surround me in the blanket that is community. I am loved. I am Blessed. And...I am going to kick the shit out of Cancer.