This is not a blog about cancer. This is a blog about all of the people I love and the strength they give me. A week ago I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. Let me state from the beginning though that this is not MY cancer. It is "the cancer" or "this cancer" or whatever you want to call it, but mine. I found a lump on Saturday and had the results by Friday. I had a pretty solid weekend long pity party and woke up Monday morning ready to fight. It was all so weird at first, it still kind of is. The reality of the situation has started to sink in but sometimes it still seems like a dream. I don't have any "why?" questions running through my head. With the help of a friend the "how the heck am I gonna do this?" went away (one day at a time). So now I'm just ready to start. I'm ready for my first treatment, ready for my body to start fighting. My treatment begins this Thursday and I will be receiving chemotherapy once every two weeks for 20 weeks. After a couple weeks of recovery I'll have surgery, more recovery, radiation, more recovery, reconstruction, more recovery, and wrapping it all up with hormone therapy. Right now my focus is chemo, one step at a time. The good news is I won't have treatment the week of my birthday, on my dad's birthday, or over the 4th of July! And even though I will be logging a lot of hospital time this summer, I plan on keeping my life as normal as possible. I will still work this summer, be able to finish out this school year, and hopefully have the best quarter life crisis a girl could ask for. I am ready to get summer started!
There are some weird things that come with having cancer and the treatment involved. For example, no summer at the beach. Unfortunately, Lake Michigan is a little too dirty and my immune system will be a little too low. Also there will be no partying like it's San Francisco because everything I put in my body has to be fighting fuel. Continuously hearing about how this is going to be a "long, challenging road ahead" is strange, too. In my head I'll bang out each treatment and get on with my life (fingers crossed). I had to make a decision about the children I haven't had yet and received a prescription for a wig, not to mention I had to give up my gardening career. With the help of my new friend Amber (a true angel) I have my purses all prepared for chemo and stocked full of gum, kleenex, lip chap, sunscreen, and band-aids. Also, I now own my first thermometer! And in my hospital bag is my fuzzy Justin Bieber blanket. Be prepared.
There are also many good things that have come from this diagnosis. I will never question the quality of friends I have. They are strong, unbelievable, and have stood by me every second of this adventure. I haven't been to a single appointment alone and I don't even see them allowing me to. My family has been rock solid and ready as usual. My parents packed up their home in Arizona in a day and are already on their way back to Chicago. I've had my wonderful aunts and uncles showing their love and support and my cousins around to make me smile and feel normal. Kira has already taken charge and designed and ordered bracelets, not to mention is ready to drop whatever she's doing to be there for me. Oh and my work! All of the lovely folks that I spend every weekday teaching with have been there for me every step of the way and are a core group in my army. All of you are. Every single one of you will have a hand in this victory.
The bad is very small in this new challenge. Cancer likes all of the same foods I do, so my diet has changed. Everything that goes in is fuel. My daily bag of Wild Berry Skittles will no longer be happening. And my mom gets another year of being the frosting queen! I cannot wait till remission... I've also heard that being bald isn't an easy transition, but I've had so much hair for so long now it might be a nice change! And who isn't excited to see me with my Justin Timberlake in the 90s hairstyle?!
More than weird or any other feeling I have felt through this experience, I have felt love. Love from my family, my friends, my work family... everyone. I am so humbled by your love. Your love is what makes me feel strong. I am fueled by your love. There is no way I could fight this without you. I can fight this and I will beat this because of you. So I have to thank you all for helping me do this. It seems impossible without your support. "It takes a village."
So how can you help? The texts, emails, and Facebook messages have made me smile and kept my spirits high. Positivity. I need lots of positive thoughts and vibes my way. One of the committees I've formed for my army is a simple, uplifting quote to start my day with. There are also plenty of other groups, people researching diet and exercise, there's the "pretty committee" in charge of making sure I feel beautiful through this, friends to make sure I don't hole away, people to help with this blog and other updates, the lists go on. And I am so touched to have everyone wanting to take part. If you want to help just ask. Want to do something? Ask me first. And don't be afraid to because not only do I want to hear from you, I want to stay empowered through this. I don't want to roll over to this cancer and let it or anyone else control what I need. There will be days that I don't want visitors and just will have my family around. There will be days that my family needs to get out of town to recharge and I might need someone to spend time with. Just ask, I'll be honest with you.
Again, thank you all for your love and care. My family and I are blessed to have the most wonderful people in our lives. I know that God will use this new adventure for good and He is using me for something beautiful. I know He is near me and will hold us all in His hands through this. Good will come from this. It already has :)
Love you all so much! Check back for updates, we'll do the best we can to keep you informed.
And remember, this is a blog about all of the people I love and the strength they give me. This is not a blog about cancer.