Jessica’s Story

Site created on February 18, 2018


February 8th, will be a day that will never be forgotten. It was the moment that not just my life but my family’s life would be changed in a way we never saw coming. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Three weeks prior, I had found a lump in my right breast. Anyone who knows me, would know that hypochondrac  side in me went into over-drive. Living in Kamloops for almost the last two years, we have not been able to secure a family doctor. So off the to the walk-in clinic I went.  I was sent for an ultrasound which quickly lead to a mammogram the same day. Not having a family doctor, I wasn’t giving much information of what was going on. Instead I received calls from the hospital setting up an MRI date and then another call, setting up a biopsy date. At this point, only a couple good friends knew about what was happening. Chances were, it was just going to be benign as there are no markers in our family for cancer. Along with never smoking,  healthy diet, and working out regularly, my chances were high that cancer was not going to be present. 



On February 6th, I went to the hospital for my biopsy. With Matt away, a friend took me, while another watched Addy bear (our two year old daughter). I was so grateful to have their help and support. While at the appointment, I still had no clue or information as to what the ultra sound or mammogram had discovered. When the doctor came in, I heard them talking about the reports and using other words along with the lump. I asked  what “satellite images” meant.  
The biopsy took six samples. Three from the lump and three from a secondary lesion “satellite images.” I left the hospital feeling more concerned then when I walked in.  

I was grocery shopping, when my phone rang on the 8th with my husband who had just gotten home from camp. It was the walk in clinic. The doctor I had seen asked if I could come at the end of her day. Hanging up the phone my gut told me instantly something was wrong.  Making quick arrangement for the kids, Matt and I made our way to the clinic. Waiting for the doctor, the growing feeling increased that something just wasn’t right. When Dr. Anderson entered the room her energy had already told me something had come up in the biopsy. As the words left her mouth, the world shifted from under my feet. I stared across the room at my husband as my brain kept saying “this isn’t happening.”  The doctor had already arranged the following morning for me to meet with a surgeon. 
Driving home from the doctors office,  so many thoughts crossed my mind. How was I to explain this to my kids? How was I to call my parents and tell them such news? How was I to tell my friends? How was I to tell my clients as my new business has only been open for six months? How was I to do anything when I barely could process the information?  All I could think was...I’m a 35 year old woman with two young kids why is this happening? 

When I say February 8th won’t be a day we will forget, I don’t just mean that my cancer won an official spot on the Calendar. It was also the first day, that the friendships I have made here in Kamloops truly show the depth of their love for not just me but my family. I felt confused, and scared while they each held me as I cried.  Yet in those moments, what I remember is their strength and love. Their encouragement that cancer will not win. Their determination to be my strength as I begun the first hours into my battle against cancer.

Meeting the surgeon, is when the next wind beneath my feet was taken. The lump had been tested positive for cancer but the secondary lesions as well.  As the word “Mastectomy” left my surgeons mouth, the room spun.  It hadn’t even been 24hours since hearing the word cancer and I was face with the reality that my breast had to be removed.  Then faced with another scare. That it would take two weeks from the surgery day to determine the stage and grade of the cancer as well if my lymph nodes have been affected.  Sitting in her office, listening to her explain about the mastectomy, reconstruction process, tissue expanders, scars, time-frame, and treatments I watched my husband. I was grateful for his determination to seek answers and learn. I could hear the words in the room yet my mind was thinking of James and Addison.  The closeness I have to my six year old son, and how I was to tell him that I had  just come face to face with one of my biggest fears; something that could take me away from them. That mommy was beginning one of the biggest mountains that she would have to climb.  


Sunday, February 11th, we explained to James that I was sick, and not just with an everyday cold. Addison being two, has no understanding except that the energy around her has mixed emotions. So we focused on James. That I would also be having surgery to remove to sickness and how it would affect mommy’s body physically. That following that would be treatments that we didn’t know of yet until they could determine more information.   I will never forget my amazing little boy looking up at me with tears in his eyes saying, “mommy if this sickness takes over, I will still love you. I am going to fight this with you, so you win.”  They were words I’d never thought I’d ever hear from anyone's mouth let alone my own child.  

Only a couple friends knew, Lyndsay, Immy and Susy, along with their husbands who are also our friends had circled around our family.  These three beautiful, strong woman,   knowing my world had just crumbled, alongside with their husbands were constantly telling me that I will beat this. That I was strong. That cancer will not win.  That I will beat this no matter what.  This had created a whisper from my own courage that formed through all my overwhelming emotions I was feeling. 
It was after my sons statement, looking into his little blue eyes, that through my numbness, fear, and all the other emotions I was feeling a four word statement formed. That what had been a whisper in the back of my mind turned into a scream “cancer will not win!” 

We spent the following week informing friends, schools, and daycares. The unexpected and very humbling level of support has continued to grow with each person who has heard my news has flooded my world with a level of positivity, love and strength.  To all the wonderful and amazing people upon finding, whether it was through the phone, James' school parking lot, or in person  who offered coffee, pie, held my hand through the tears, and offered nothing but support, friendship and love, I deeply thank you from the bottom of my heart. 
My days of processing have only just begun, as well as my journey to fight cancer  is only 9 days in as I write today the beginning of this journey.  The shock of everything is still sinking in.  I know the upcoming weeks will have many dark moments. I also know that in those moments I have people who will help me find the lightness. Whether it’s simply hanging out, watching a movie, cracking a joke, or simply being a shoulder for me express my emotions safely on.  I know that I enter this fight not alone. 

This next week will be the MRI and the second meeting with the surgeon to finalize my surgery date. 

Thank you to everyone who have taken the time to read this. The upcoming weeks are going to be hard days. I encourage you to follow my journey through this website as phone calls and texting my updates may be delayed or accidentally go unanswered. Between Matt (my husband) and myself, we will post updates on this site that will be sent to your phone or email so that you can stay connected. 
Feel free leave comments and share this website if you wish, whether you are a family member, friend, acquaintance, someone who has met me in passing, or even if we have never met. Know that i may not always respond but I will be reading and feeling your support and for that I will always be deeply humbled. 
 
With all my heart,
Jess. 


Newest Update

Journal entry by Jessica Murphy

One year ago, on February 8th I sat in a doctors office with my husband being told I had breast cancer. 


The following months after  happened so fast. I spent most my time trying to wrap my mind around what was happening. 


It’s hard to believe a year has past since that day. 


 


Over this next month, my next surgery date will be booked. After talking with surgeons, oncologist, and family doctor it was decided best course of action is to have the other side removed with reconstructive surgery at the same time. 


Using tamoxifen has also brought in a gynaecologist to my team. Usage of this drug is for ten years. a preventative hysterectomy will happen at the same time as the mastectomy. Partial or full is unknown at this time, it’s a conversation still in discussion between the gynaecologist and oncologist. 


 


This past year, I’ve kept quiet about lots of the internal struggles and even the physical ones. I decided on my one year anniversary to share what has being going on in my world this past year. 


 


Returning to the gym last May, held excitement but also nerves of not knowing how things would go. My coaches welcomed me back, and so did my fellow 9amers like I had never been away.  


I owe Huge thank you to my crossfit gym which has been such an immense support to me. Especially the 9amers. 


A second family I truly treasure. From laughs, to everyday chats, or more serious conversations. I know each morning when I roll out of bed, whether my joints hurt, Or I’m tired, or mentally not in a good place, that just walking into the 9am class my day will get better. Doesn’t mean my workout will be great on those days but those 9amers sure make any struggle I had to just show up worth it. 


I’ve made gains in the gym this past year that I had never made prior to my surgery. From lifting more weight, to pull-ups without using a band and so much more. Moments where I get in my head about about whether I can do something, I know I can look up and find encouraging smile from a fellow friend to help me over that hurdle. Awesome coaches that have worked with me to achieve where I am now. Adjusting movements in the skill or the WOD if my chest just wasn’t going to let me do it. But also knowing when to push me and reminding me not be afraid to try. Going to the gym is a guaranteed positive outcome for me... even on those snatch days.


Last year, I also went to an energy healing session with a lady shortly after my surgery. She told me many of her clients who went through the same thing said that cancer wasn’t a negative it brought so much more positive into their life. That one day I would look back and be thankful for cancer. At the time, I stared at this woman like she had three heads.  Why would I ever be thankful for cancer? How could such a diagnoses be positive? 


 


Going back, a few days after I was diagnosed, I scrolled past a singer on facebook. Something inside me told me to go back and listen. So I did. The song really resonated in me in that moment. I downloaded it for my playlist for in the hospital. Though I didn’t get to listen much to music the drugs kept me pretty out of it. Coming home, I didn’t really think much about the song. 


Then I See this energy healer, her words bothered me. I wasn’t angry at them just mystified. Her words kept replaying in my mind. A week went past I felt depressed, overwhelmed, and unsure. My mother went home and Matt went back to work. So naturally, it lead to finally breaking down without anyone else around.
With the kids asleep I walked into my bathroom only to sit on the floor and cry. 


At this point I felt lost, confused and struggling to put everything straight. I sat with Ruger, my dog for a long time attempting to shuffle through everything. He is a good dog to have around if you need to shed a few emotional tears. 


Asking the universe why this happened? Would I be taken from my kids who were two and six? The cancer was found in my lymph nodes meaning they have no idea at this point whether the cancer is gone or if cells are floating through my body. I just have to wait. Could I battle and win this? How could I find the strength to be strong because  my son was struggling to cope? So many more thoughts cluttered my mind making it impossible to just be happy.  I reached over, still hanging onto my dog and I turned on my music hoping to drown out my mind . The song I heard weeks back blared over the Bose speaker. I sat with my dog, listening to this song feeling something beyond just the words. I put the song on repeat, and just sat no longer trying to force myself to figure everything out but to just let the emotions come as they needed too. 


I seriously have an amazing dog to literally sit with me through this. 


Finally after a long time, I took a breath, looked at Ruger  and said, “it’s going to be okay. We are going to be okay. I’m going to be okay. I chose to believe.” Of course, Ruger said nothing back but I know he agreed with me.



For the past year, I have played this song everyday as I take each day as it comes. But it was in that bathroom with my dog and the song that my journey began to 


  • deepening the connection to myself

  • learning to stop and breath

  • Letting go of any heaviness surrounding me

  • Learn to forgive and accept my body

  • Placing distance between myself and those who cause grief in my life. I am sorry that our paths in life just did go the same way. However, I do wish each them all the happiness and health to them and their families. 

  • Learning to close my eyes, feel the beat in music which has lead to a multitude of dance parties with the kids. Sometimes all you can do is just dance it out!

  • To believe in myself, and my beliefs

  • Learning to accept that things happen and choose to find the positive. 

  • Believing that my own path in life has many more healthy years ahead of me. 

  • Learning to smile, even when I’m  struggling to face the day because the “what if’s” have overwhelmed me even before I leave my bed. Believing that everything will get better

  • Focused on my nutrition and health. 

I started to see as the months went on that Cancer was not taking everything from me. It awakened my desire to live a more full life without all the tv and screen time. A want, to try new things I never desire to do in the past. 


Opened my eyes, to the beautiful children I have and making more time to just sit and play. How my son truly has so much of me in him. His laugh, they way he uses odd voices to talk about random stuff. To breaking into a random dance on the ice while skating to his net. The connection between mother and son is amazing. He truly is one of my most favourite people. 


Addy bear, is a girl through and through and I love it. I can roll around army style with my son then moments later be a Princess late for a tea party. Her imagination is limitless reminding me of how I was as a child. Playing Barbies while making the whole house another world through her eyes... priceless. Addy bear is everything I could of ever wanted in a daughter. She is another favourite person in my life. My children are everything to me. Spending time and being absolutely present while playing with them makes my life so full. 


 


This diagnosis deepened my friendships to real, good hearted people.  These amazing people always willing to sit and listen to my fears. Letting my tears fall without judgement. Allowing me to truly express any emotion i feel. Venting the frustrations with the off and on burning sensation that sits in my chest and other things related to having a reconstructive implant. To those friends, I am grateful for their time. I appreciate them listening and giving their thoughts and advice which has always been one hundred percent positive. Whether it’s coffee dates,or popcorn and wine, or even just private messages or phone calls. I’m surrounded by amazing friends. So many of you have done wonderful things over this past year, raising money, sending cards almost every month, and so much more. 


A few in particular will never truly now how deep my gratitude goes. Those people know who they are. Even though they are reading this, there are no words to express my deepest thank you for being there on the darkest days. How I love each one of our friendships and feel blessed that you came into my life. I have chosen not put names, but you know who you are. I could not write this today and not give a mention to some of the incredible people I have in my circle. This is only the tip of how some you all have helped me. 


  • Making me come to their work to help my body and joint issues while talking me through my emotions.

  • Holding my hand in my car while I ugly cry outside the gym. 

  • Talking with me in the parking lot after everyone has gone or giving me that extra push in the middle of a WOD.  

  • Regular coffee dates, always being there for me, reminding me just how far I have come and that I am strong. and keeping me accountable for coming to the gym... unless a coffee decision is made instead of the gym. 

  • Answering questions about the surgery, the recovery, the drugs I take no matter how many times I ask.  

  • Wearing pink shirts #teamjess

  • Walking the neighbourhood looking for a cat none of us expected to be found; he was found!

  • Spending time well past their scheduled spa appointment chatting while their daughter unknowingly watches my kids... well she may know. 

Or even today, sitting on the gym floor after the WOD simply talking.  


Friendships and I mean true friendships are hard to find. During this process I lost friendships I didn’t think I would but I don’t hold anything negative towards them. Cancer is scary. It’s brings fears up even if your not the person living with it. No one can control how they will react. 


My family has been there for me. Giving me space to heal and grow. Always reminding me they are there. Though miles lay between us i can feel their love and support like they are standing right in front of me. I’m grateful for my husband, children and the rest of my family. 


With that, Cancer brought fears, concerns and the unknown but also brought so much positive. 


Reflecting over this past year, all the growth I have done, my healing, and everything else I mentioned earlier I find myself looking back and being thankful for this diagnosis. No longer am I mystified, I completely understand. 


I may still hold my fears, have up and down days, and hard days ahead after the surgery but I have so much more positive to outweigh the negative. 


My battle isn’t over. I stand with strength and belief in a ring with strong, positive, empowering, and fierce friends and love of my entire family, that all have my back. Cancer will not win. 


 


Thank you to all of those who took the time to read this and to the support you continue to give me over the upcoming year. 


 


Which leaves to end this write up on a positive note. Only two words come to mind to sum everything up, on my one year anniversary of being diagnosed with Breast cancer. 


 


I Believe. 


 


Love Jess. 


 

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