Chapter 13: I have breast cancer

I knew deep down before the doctor came in that my results were going to be positive.

I have breast cancer.

The news “you have breast cancer” is still is a direct punch to the gut when you hear those words spoken to you. My doctor sat down on my bed, grabbed my hands, looked into my teary eyes and said this was not a death sentence and we could get through this. My family and friends were in the room awaiting the news and with salty tears streaming down my face, I looked at everyone and said, “Now, we fight.” I looked at both of my brand new miracle babies and vowed to both of them that I was going to do everything in me to beat this and that this disease was not going to take me. I was not going to leave them without a Mommy. I was not going to repeat history. I had no idea how I was going to face this fight emotionally and physically and I was terrified, but I would do it.

I have breast cancer.

We spent a couple more days in the hospital, as I recovered from my c-section. We tried to balance joy and fear. Every smile ended with tears. I was in my head and trying so hard to embrace every single moment, enjoy these new blessings and memorize every part of them. Put every little moment in a time capsule in my mind. I was so unbelievably happy, but also exhausted with anger and paralyzed with anxiety. Would I see these babies grow up? Would I leave my husband to raise two children alone? Why was this happening? How could God do this to me? I have always been very spiritual and had fell in and out of my relationship with my faith. Right now…I was mad. I was questioning everything. We slowly started to share with extended family and friends what was going on and one friend in particular was very religious and I reached out to her. She, too, had gone through fertility issues and we had bonded over our struggles to get pregnant. She called me and I poured out my feelings to her and told her how angry I was with God. She simply said to me, “God did not give cancer to you. I believe, in fact, he saved you! You will see. He will take care of you. These babies helped to save your life.” I was not ready to fully ingest this statement, but I NOW agree. At the time, I could not see that.

I have breast cancer.

We brought the twins home and they met their cousins for the first time. This was PURE joy. As I watched them each hold the twins, I felt a small amount of peace. I was very close to my older sister’s children and I knew that if I did not make it, they would tell them all about me. I stood back and watched and knew that if I was not here in the future, my children would know me through them. My friends showed up and literally put together a schedule of people to help with the twins, a meal train of food and meanwhile, I started to pull back from the twins. I was afraid of getting too close. I know how this sounds, but in my head at the time…it was easier to back off. I was dealing with postpartum emotions and had also battled with depression and anxiety my entire life. This was a tipping point for me.

I have breast cancer.

We met with my new team, which included my oncologist and breast surgeon and we had a plan.I have breast cancer and further I was diagnosed with stage 2b Infiltrating ductal carcinoma and I was HER2 positive. This meant that my cancer had started in the milk ducts and my cancer had tested positive for a protein called “human epidermal growth factor receptor 2” (HER2). These types of cancers tend to be more aggressive and grow very quickly , BUT the good news was that they knew how to treat it. We were going to start with 6 rounds of chemotherapy; once every 3 weeks. They wanted to see if the tumor was shrinking and reacting to the chemo. Then, we would move forward with a double mastectomy. This was a no brainer for me. As soon as I was diagnosed I wanted them removed. My oncologist and surgeon were very positive that my prognosis was good. I remember asking “Will I lose my hair? I read there is a small percentage of people that don’t lose their hair?” My doctor looked at me with kind eyes and said, “Yes, you are going to lose your hair, but you are going to live to see those beautiful babies grow-up.” As a woman, losing your hair is a big deal. It would make me LOOK sick and honestly…I had great hair! This was just one more thing that would be stolen from me. Taken from me. More loss of control. We would be starting chemo the following week and they told me it was going to be really hard, but together we would get through it. They stressed that this would all be in my rearview mirror in a year. A YEAR.

I have breast cancer.

We fell into our new normal of diapers and formula, no sleep and learning how to comfort these new babies. It was terrifying and invigorating all at the same time. I was taking pictures of them, but did not want any taken of me WITH them. I knew that I would be able to see the pain on my face in those pictures. I would not let myself fully embrace them. I was holding back. As each day went by, the darker my thoughts became. I did not want them to get used to me…in case. I did not want to love them…in case. I spent more and more time crying and less time smiling. I just wanted to sleep. In my dreams this was not happening. There was no cancer. It was just the four of us. I was a new Mom taking walks and figuring out how to breastfeed. In real life, I was wearing 2 sports bras to dry-up my milk, so I could start chemotherapy. We had an ARMY of friends and family helping us around the clock and we truly could not have done it without them. No one truly knew what was going on inside my head. I was breaking down. I was losing my battle without even starting. I could not stop crying and when I stopped, I just wanted to sleep. I could not eat. My sister came over and begged me to just take a few bites of a sandwich. I had to fight, I could NOT give up. I HAD TO FIGHT. I knew at that moment, I needed some help. I was in trouble and my depression was taking over.

I have breast cancer.

The next day, I checked into an inpatient mental health facility. I knew I needed some help that was beyond hugs and kind words. While at the facility, I was able to face what was ahead of me and learn some ways to start coping with this massive mountain I was about to climb. I was able to let go of “I caused this” and lean into “I will beat this.” I was feeling a massive amount of guilt that I had pushed too hard. I had pushed my body and pumped it with hormones. I had caused this and this was all my fault. I slowly started to let this go and realize that none of this was my fault and I could BEAT this. I had to fight. I had to get my head in the right space. I had to eat the sandwich.

I have breast cancer.

I was there for 4 days and with some very intensive treatment, I was able to face my cancer head on and I was ready to fight.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.