If someone had told me in advance that 2016 would be a year that I would fall in love and also get diagnosed with cancer, I wouldn't have believed them. I probably would have both laughed and cried, and then maybe have tried to hide.
When I look back on the year I've had, it's almost with disbelief. I remember speaking with a friend shortly after my diagnosis, and them telling me, "This is going to be a journey." And I said, "I don't want to go on a journey, I just want to live my normal life." But what I learned is that you can't control what life throws at you all the time. Sometimes you have no choice and you must go on the journey.
In the end, it's not the journey that really matters, it's how you handle it. Even though I couldn't control the fact that I got diagnosed with cancer, I was able to control a lot of facets of my treatment and how I prioritized things in my life. I like to think that I took full control of whatever I was able to influence. I became an expert on my particular type of breast cancer, to the point where medical professionals asked me on more than one occasion if I had a medical background. (I don't). I meticulously researched my doctors and put together an amazing team based on what I valued and what I needed. I also took control of other facets of my life. I decided to only tell a couple people at work about what I was going through because I wanted to try to maintain a sense of normalcy in that area as best I could and I didn't want to be treated differently. I stepped back from a lot of casual commitments and learned how to say "no." I gained a new perspective. I learned that we don't really have as much time as we think we have. I also learned that because of that, time is the most valuable thing that we have.
Today is March 4, 2017 and I am happy to say that I’m on the other side of my cancer treatment. I was diagnosed June 29, which was followed by an egg removal procedure in July, a mastectomy in August, chemotherapy treatments starting in September, followed by reconstructive surgery in January. It was a long, twisting, rocky road, but I am glad that everything is finally over.
They say that you enter “survivorship” the day you find out you have breast cancer. I guess that’s technically correct and a good way to think of it, but now after everything is done, I feel like I am now finally considering myself a survivor.
As far as treatments go, I’m taking this drug called “Tamoxifen” once a day for at least 5 years. I also am continuing to get a shot every month which essentially shuts down my ovaries.
Now that I’m pretty much fully recovered from my reconstructive surgery, I am getting back to my normal life. After having gone through this experience, I am much more focused, appreciative of life’s moments and I take less for granted. Having cancer was a wake-up call. Up until my diagnosis, I never thought that anything would happen to me, and then it did and my world completely changed. So it’s important to love your life, appreciate the little things in your day, take time to stop and reflect, and be grateful for the time that we all have, because it's not unlimited like we tend to think it is.