Friends, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted here on Willowcrest Lane. I’ve been busy working on some fun new services to offer, upcoming events, and plans for this blog, but I needed to stop and chat with you about something important.
Yes, you read that correctly: October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I want to share someone with you whom I admire very much, Samantha Kuhr. Sam is a wife, mom of two handsome sons, dedicated friend, thoughtful businesswoman, and all around fierce woman.
She and I met last year at the Roc City Planner event I hosted and we clicked right away. Sam has a wicked sense of humor and the quickest wit, which made for an evening of laughing until my belly hurt. What I was most struck by was her strength, though. Sam is a cancer survivor with a message that you need to hear. Please let me introduce you to my beautiful friend, Sam, and let her story inspire and motivate you as it has me.
My world as I knew it changed on March 27, 2015. I was a 43-year-old mom of two very active boys, wife of 17 years to Hot Hubby, active, non-smoker, with no family history of cancer. We work hard and play hard. Perfect, right? Turns out that none of that mattered when I was unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer.
After my diagnosis, I quickly became an expert in the field of cancer, to ensure I would not die. I documented each step on my blog, and I’m going to share my story with you, hoping that just one person might conduct a self-check, or schedule their mammogram.
What Every Breast Cancer Survivor Wishes You Knew
April 29th is just another day for most people, however for me it is filled with crazy emotions. Two years ago my life and body changed forever when I had two cancerous tumors removed, both breasts, and 13 lymph nodes. I am grateful for each day that I get to walk on this earth, however, I will never be the same again. I mean it’s not like I’m wallowing in grief every minute of every day or anything, but cancer is ALWAYS with me and ALWAYS will be with me. Here are a few things a cancer survivor wishes you knew:
- I didn’t grasp how difficult the treatment was while it was happening. After 5 surgeries in 11 months, I am only now able to realize the extent of the trauma that my body and mind went through
- My left armpit will always feel like someone is sticking me with a coat hanger
- I am constantly reminded of my double mastectomy every time I take a shower and cannot feel the water on my chest
- I cannot open jars or do push ups because I have no tissue or muscles left in my chest
- Just because you see me laughing and carrying on with my life as ‘normal’, doesn’t mean I’m not scared shitless that bad cels will start to grow again and I won’t get to see my kids graduate high school
- I like to hear success stories, not horror stories. Please don’t make a point to tell me about your nanny who had a double mastectomy at 42, only for the cancer to come back two years later and now she’s dead. It’s not that I don’t care about your nanny… I really really do… it’s just that this is my worst f-ing fear, and I simply don’t want to go there.
- On the other hand, if a friend of ours is diagnosed and we’re talking about it in a group, don’t go silent and weird when you realize that I’m there. Honestly, I can take these conversations, and going silent makes me feel as though you think I have the plague and that you are all part of the non-cancer club who can freely talk about this, but I’m part of a cancer club. Which I’m painfully aware that I am, I just don’t need to be reminded
- Sometimes I’m so nervous when I go to my oncology appointments, I vomit in the bathroom of the waiting room. But I put on this brave face when you ask me how my appointment went as though it’s no big deal
- I no longer have control over my body and emotions. The chemicals that I take on a daily basis are totally running this ship… some days I barely feel them, and other days I don’t even know who this bat-shit-crazy person is. None of this is deliberate. Please don’t take it personally, and please forgive me. I’d love to not take the drugs, but you see, those same chemicals that sometimes turn me bat-shit-crazy, are the same chemicals that are supposed to keep me alive. Cool.
- When people say “You’re all good now right?”…. what I want to say is that I’m all good unless these f-ing cancer cels in my body decide to grow and take a tour of my body again. You see this is how it works for me now. If my cancer returns, it’s not because I did or didn’t do something… it’s because those are the cards I’ve been dealt
- My heart breaks when I tell Julian that I have a doctors appointment, and he looks at me with fear and asks me what’s wrong. You see, he is constantly afraid that cancer is going to sneak up on us from nowhere… like it did the first time… and there is nothing more heartbreaking than your little boy making you promise him that you are not going to die
- I wish people would stop using the term ‘cancer free’ because you are never truly ‘free’ from cancer. Back to an earlier point…I’m cancer free unless those f-ing cels decide to explore my body again
- I remind myself every day that I am not DYING of cancer, but LIVING with cancer, and I remind myself every day that I’d rather have this life than no life at all.