I’m sure this post will shock a lot of people...especially some of my closest friends whom I haven’t told! Please don’t be upset that you are learning now. I’ve been extremely private this time around as I was more concerned for other’s reactions.
I CHOOSE to keep living...walking a little on the wild side (especially last week on my action packed vacation) and wanted to keep things as normal as possible, for as long as possible.
Here’s the story:
It’s been 4 months since I was diagnosed with aggressive metastatic breast cancer (despite having bilateral mastectomies, chemo and radiation 7 yrs ago it came back). I really believed I was in the clear when I hit that 5 yr mark. But Her2 positive cancer doesn’t play by most rules. It’s nasty and aggressive.
I felt a lump in my scar line in early March but it took another month to get the definitive diagnosis. Over the past few months, leading up to today, I’ve had MRI’s, Ct’s, Pet scans, consults, multidisciplinary appts, several rounds of meds, steroids and immunotherapy, second and third opinions on treatments, ect. I had surgery to remove the primary tumor on May 28th. I threw Chase’s birthday party 3 days later with a chest full of stitches, and went back to work post-op day 7 without anyone having any idea. I made it through my shift, smiled and laughed with my co-workers and no one could tell anything was going on. I do have good days and bad days-sometimes just a few bad hours. I’m maximizing my good parts of the day to the fullest.
Over the last few months I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve chaperoned field trips, attended sports and school events, bbq’d with neighbors, played really hard (ninja warrior, zip lining, tubing, ect), I continued working until 3 weeks ago. I’m on medical leave now.
I’m determined to dream big, conquer anything and everything I’m told I wont be able to do, and just find joy in every single good day! I 100% believe attitude makes a huge difference! I want our kids, family and friends to see that you can do anything you set your mind to, no matter what obstacles stand in your way!
We told our kids, parents and siblings the first week of June because I was set to start chemo and it was going to become obvious. There is nothing that breaks my heart more than seeing those I care about experience the emotional bomb of this information. Watching my kids cry the entire weekend broke my heart. Watching my parents cry breaks my heart every time. They say they’re crying for me because I have to go through this, but I cry for them for having to witness it. I’m sure some of you will Dr. Google this so let me save you some trouble...yes, metastatic means stage 4. BUT, it does not mean hopeless. My treatment plan is aggressive and the fight is hard but I have complete faith I WILL get through this because there is NO alternative!!! I am wayyyy too stubborn, competitive and determined not to survive this, so trust me when I say, I WILL WIN!!!
As for my plan…My chemo start date kept getting delayed. It’s complicated…my last battle left me with permanent heart damage. It’s something I’ve adapted to and it doesn’t affect my daily life. However, my ejection fraction was not high enough in June to begin being poisoned again “safely”-sounds oxymoronic. So, I started cardiac meds to strengthen and protect my heart. I also became anaphylactic to many of the chemo drugs they used last time so trying to figure out how to get me through treatment from an allergy/immune perspective has been a big challenge. It took a big team at Penn and Sloan Kettering who collaborated to come up with my pre-med plan. It seemed like a great plan and we were all very optimistic it would work. In the meantime I had another surgery June 27 in hopes of gaining cleaner margins.
This brings us to today...I arrived at Penn at 7am to have my chemo port put back in. Then I met a friend for a quick pep talk and headed up to oncology to begin more IV pre-meds and started chemo an hour later. Less than half way into my infusion I went into anaphylactic shock. They called a code and pushed IV meds as well as stabbed me with an epi pen. I’m now admitted to the ICU. They’re going to try desensitizing me and administering the rest of the dose over 24hrs in hopes I can get through it. I have at least a year of treatment ahead of me. I’m in for a long haul…but I am strong enough to endure all of this!! Feeling really frustrated and mad that today’s events happened but I’m Never giving up!!!!
This year is going to be tough but I don’t want my life to revolve around being sick. I’m still going to come to every event I can (parties, sports, etc). I do not wish to make this a topic of discussion all the time. I just want to enjoy all the fun happy things and keep living and doing as much as I can. I hope by reading all of this and now knowing what’s been going on that you do not treat me any differently. I may or may not lose all of my hair on this drug...we will just roll with it, if the time comes. I’m prepared but hoping for the best.
I’m sure it will be awkward the moment you see me, you may even try to avoid seeing me…that’s ok too. I get it and won’t take offence…but please know I’m going to keep on laughing, smiling, and hanging out when my counts are good. I’m going to treasure every good day I get.
I also realize it’s hard to digest all of this info and your first response will be “how can I help?” The best thing you can do for me is to keep doing what you’re doing and pray for us. Enjoy life. You can still complain about stupid stuff- I’ll always listen and never judge-sometimes it’s a good distraction to my situation. BIGGEST REQUEST- Please do NOT set up a meal train!!! I can’t accept meals bc I have too many restrictions and it’s actually more stressful for me to know that your taking time to cook and we probably won’t be able to eat it. My kids are so picky too. I will need some help getting my kids to sports practices in the coming weeks so my kid’s lives don’t get put on hold too. Honestly, carpools and prayers are what we need!
I’m truly grateful to know that when the time does come that I really can’t swing it you’ll have our back! I’ll reach out when I get to that point.