In order to know how far I’ve come, let’s go back to where it all began…
I was 26 and living a lifestyle many would consider exciting! I was personally trying to figure out who I really was and searching for someone I wasn’t actually destined to be. I was busy partying on the weekends and working three jobs to keep up with my busy and elaborate lifestyle. One day, I was standing in front of a mirror looking at my partially naked and practically flawless body. That’s when I saw it. There it was. It was on the right side of my right breast. Clear as day, it was a lump. How long had it been there? Why had I never noticed it before? In a panic, I immediately called my OBGYN. My Doctor at the time told me it was probably “nothing”. The first ultrasound confirmed that opinion… as well as the second one. I finally electively got it removed. My surgeon performing the removal of the lump was also confident I had “nothing” to worry about. So, I didn’t worry. Three days later, on October 22, 2011, I received a phone call that would change my life.
“You have breast cancer.”
I went numb and dropped to my knees. Surely, there was a mistake. Everyone assured me it was “nothing”. I couldn’t make sense of the fact that I felt perfectly fine, when in truth, I was extremely sick. I had a lumpectomy to remove the infected area including one lymph node. My diagnosis was Stage 2B Triple Negative Breast Cancer, which is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. Over the next couple of months, I went into shock, denial, and partial temporary insanity. I refused to swallow the thought of having to undergo chemotherapy. Nonetheless, I had my third and final surgery to implant my port. In January of 2012, I started chemotherapy. It was brutal. I’ll spare all the details because truthfully most of them are a distant memory. However, I will say there are no words to describe the defeating pain of chemotherapy. It breaks down every single part of your body mentally and physically. I went from looking and feeling like a healthy 26-year-old, to being unrecognizable and in constant pain. It’s hard to convince your mind that the pain of chemo is actually making you better. My hair, my friends, and my confidence were suddenly all gone. The life I knew no longer existed. Life has a funny way of leading you exactly where you are meant to be, and I was about to be completely redirected. Towards the end of my treatment, I reconnected with a guy I once had a crush on in middle school. We immediately hit it off. He gave me a reason to laugh again. He loved me when everyone else had left me. I finished chemo in May of 2012. Seven months later, to our complete surprise, I held a positive pregnancy test in my hand. On August 27, 2013, I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl. We named her Emily. With her new life, she also gave ME new life. Emily gave me new meaning, new hope, and a new narrative to my story.
I am finally who I was meant to be.
I’m not sure the life I was living before cancer would have to lead me to my husband or to our beautiful children. I do know that even when the world is on your shoulders, and you feel like life is only bringing you down, there’s always something that will pull you back up. I’m technically a “survivor”, but aren’t we all? Haven’t we all experienced a tragic incident in our lives that we had to overcome? We’re all survivors in our own right. To me, surviving begins when the tragedy ends. Surviving is living day to day. Surviving is moving on. Surviving is starting over. Surviving is finding the light at the end of the dark tunnel. Surviving is picking up the pieces. Surviving is a new start. Surviving is finding a new purpose, and I found mine. My purpose of survival was… to become a mom! I AM FINALLY WHO I HAD BEEN SEARCHING FOR ALL ALONG. I’m the woman, the wife, and the mother, that I was destined to be. Breast Cancer is no joke. The physical pain was unbearable. The mental damage was even worse. I would endure it all over again because I truly believe that part of my life led me to my life today. Breast Cancer is more than a pink ribbon. Breast cancer is A STORY. As far as my story goes… it has a happily ever after. So I’m sharing my story for those who need to hear it. It’s for those who are battling or surviving. My story is for those who need a reason to believe… there is still more living to do. Sometimes the hardest road to travel turns into a path towards a new journey. I know where I’m finally supposed to be going because of where I’ve already been…
Cancer will never define me. It was never who I was nor who I am. I am a mom.