The Day I Found Out

Friday, June 10th

Let me introduce myself. My name is Natasha Fogarty. I am the wife of an amazing man, mother to the best six month old baby anyone could ask for, twenty-nine years old, and diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. I know right, WTF. I am only 29!! I am supposed to be celebrating my 30th birthday and watching all of the milestones my little baby boy will reach. Don’t worry I will still be doing all those things, but I will also be fighting the biggest fight of my life. This is my journey. I am not a writer. This may be hard to read for more ways than one. I realized I use very dark humor to cope with this diagnoses. You never know the person you will be until you are in the thick of some messed up shit.

Today I started chemo, but I want to tell the whole story.  This is my story. I hope it inspires, helps, and motivates all people.

 

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The day I found out I had cancer. Picture taken on June 10th.

I am going to start from the beginning, the day was June 10th 2016. Well really, it started 5 months earlier, kind of. I will elaborate. Last Friday I went to my OBGYN for my annual check up. While I was there we talked about how we missed each other and how I needed to get pregnant soon. We joked but I was a little serious. I told him “I have this lump on my right breast. Should we be worried?”. I found the lump 5 months earlier. I know, I know… Let me explain. I was 8 and a half months pregnant. I thought it was my milk coming in. I wasn’t really worried. Then life happened. I had a beautiful baby boy after 44 hours of labor. Yes, it was hell. My boobs got so engorged and I started my breastfeeding journey. It is beautiful and truly my favorite thing about being a mom. So, fast forward through all the night feeding and growth spurts and we come back to my doc appointment. My doctor said it was probably nothing to worry about but he ordered an ultrasound. So I left and scheduled my ultrasound for the following Wednesday.

My Mom, Milo and I all went up to St. Luke’s hospital. It all felt like it happened so fast but we were there for over 4 hours. I had my ultrasound, the doctor looked over it then decided she wanted me to get a mammogram. So I had a mammogram, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I even joked with my husband through text about it. Once that was done, the doctor pulled my Mom, Milo and me into a separate room. She told me that it looked concerning. Those were the words she used… I still was thinking, “Okay but I am not worried”. She wanted to do a biopsy on my lump. I was like, alright, lets get this over with. They explained what would happen. They would numb my breast, then go in and take out 3 samples of tissue and place a very small metal object in there as a tracker for where they took tissue out. We went back into the room with the ultrasound and they used the ultrasound to find the area to biopsy. It really didn’t hurt. There were 3 people in the room with me. The doctor, ultrasound tech, and a nurse. The nurse held my arm up and rubbed it to help calm me. The doctor did her job and it was over. I thought, “Easy! Done!”.

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The day Milo was born

Friday 6/10 was just like any other day. I went to work. I was told to call the doctor this morning any time I had a second to discuss results. Let me be very clear… I had no idea this would be the outcome. Breast cancer was so far away from what i thought this lump was. I would have never went to work if I had the slightest idea. I called the doctor during my 15 minute break while I was pumping breastmilk for my little dude. It was kind of a blur, but she said “I am sorry to tell you this, but the biopsy came back positive for breast cancer.”. I am pretty sure that everything she said after that, I didn’t hear at all. Something about a MRI and meeting with a surgeon. I hung up and just cried so hard. It was unbelievable, unthinkable, unimaginable. I calmed myself down enough to call my Husband. He answered and all I said was “it is breast cancer. I have breast cancer”, as I cried hard again. I don’t know what to do… I don’t know how to live my life. Not like suicidal thoughts, just, like… what do i do? Keep working? Keep crying? Come home? Drive? Like… how do I do life?

Jimmy wanted to come get me from work and at that point I was okay with that. Then I called my Mom and the same thing happened… She shed a few tears then put on her Mom pants and told me everything was going to be okay and that I would get through this, and I just needed to come home right now. I know the moment we got off the phone she broke down, but she was strong for me. I was at this point in shock. I was shaking so bad. My hands couldn’t even dial a phone number as I called my boss to tell him I had to go home because I just found out I had breast cancer. He said “Oh, No Natasha! I am so sorry.” I didn’t know what to say. I was shocked and confused. I then called people to come in to work for me. I work in retail and we work on two people coverage. I went back out on the floor and pretended like nothing happened. I helped customers like I always do. I did tell the associate that I was working with what happened. It was all a blur. One of my sisters texted in while I was still at work “Mom just told me the news. You are seriously the strongest woman I know tho so I know you will beat this! Next week is my last week of work then I’ll be free to help you out in anyway possible. I can be at your house every day if I need to be just let me know. I love you sister.”  I didn’t respond until later in the day. She knew, and that was all I could deal with at that point. My boss came in and I was on a different level, like not crying, but making light of the situation. I have breast cancer. “It is not a death sentence, but just incase, I need to go out and get some major life insurance.” He thought I was taking it very well. I have a great way of hiding my emotions, as I am sure we all do. I have had a lot of other terrible things happen to me in my life and I know how to put on a smile. I grabbed my stuff, and as I walked to my car, the tears came fast and hard. This was all a bad dream. I was going to wake up. But I knew it wasn’t a dream. I knew this was my life now. I got into my car and started driving the same drive I have always drove, but somehow this time felt different. My world was different.

I first texted my other sister who was in clinical because I knew calling her would only stress her out. I just said “Call me when you get off.” I didn’t want to freak her out or take her mind off of work. She was under a lot of stress too. I have never asked her, but always wondered if she was worried that day, as my Mom asked her to call too…  I called my best friend and cousin. I told her I am sorry to tell you this at work, but I know if I didn’t, she would hear it from her Mom, and that is what I didn’t want. I said “I have breast cancer.” We cried.  What do you say to that? How do you react? There is no wrong way I have decided. The way you react is always the right way. I promise. Be honest. Julia said a few things but the thing I remember was, “I don’t even know what to say Natasha.”  At that moment I felt the same way… We were going through the same emotions together. We have always been honest with each other and it was refreshing to hear that at that moment. It wasn’t, “You are strong. You are a fighter. You can do this.” It was “I don’t know what to say.”  We were both in shock. I hung up the phone and immediately called my other life long best friend. She was working as well, with kids. We did some small talk first and then I told her the same as I told everyone. Simply, “I have breast cancer.”  Tears again. “What do you need?” Those were her first words. WOW. I don’t know. She immediately went into helping mode. The mom in her came out. I needed that too. She had just went through this with her mom less than a month before. Her emotions are still raw from that. I felt better after talking to both of my friends. They had different reactions but they were both what I needed. I finished the long drive home. I walked into the house and My husband was standing there. We hugged for a long time. We cried a little that day but more laugher and jokes were made. I hugged my baby. And all felt right in the world.

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The day I took a selfie with Milo

My mom came over that day. She said that if we wanted to know, the doctor should be able to tell us what kind of cancer I had. I think when I was on the phone I was in such shock that I didn’t even ask one question. I knew I had an MRI and I thought that would tell us more. I didn’t know anything about any of this. Jimmy, Mom, and I all sat around and joked about Jimmy needing to take out a life insurance policy on me and how he would have to wait a little bit before remarrying. I said if I am going to die, the least I could do is pay for Milo’s college. We laughed and joked more. Like I said before, this is how I deal with cancer. I joke and laugh about it.  My sister, Gabrielle, called my mom first as Jimmy and I sat there, and we heard Mom tell her the dreaded words… “Natasha has breast cancer”. There was a pause and instinctively, the future doctor came out in her… “Was it the left breast?” she said. No, unfortunately it wasn’t. My left breast didn’t produce as much milk, sometimes only getting under one ounce. Lefty was my slacker boob. So you can understand how upset we all were to find out it was my “good” boob. It was bigger, it was prettier, Milo favored it more, and so did I. Jimmy on the other hand liked my left boob better. Jimmy still thinks the left boob plotted this whole thing so that lefty could, for once, be the favorite. Part of me wonders myself.

Mom brought this book over that went through everything about breast cancer. It was a very good, informative book. Last that day, Jimmy called my OBGYN to ask what kind of cancer it was. I could hear my doctor just completely saddened and shocked by this diagnosis. He asked how I was. “Fine, strong.” He asked about Milo.  Jimmy joked that when he told him, Milo smiled a big smile. Jimmy said, “He has taken it the best out of all of us.” We all laughed. By the end we heard it… Invasive ductal cancer, Grade 3. Very aggressive. I had no idea what any of it meant. I was instantly scared. The unknown is the scariest thing about all of this. Dr Pearse said this is the most common and that we will know more on Monday. Jimmy hung up and re-read what he had wrote… Invasive ductal cancer grade 3.  I immediately said, “Are you sure he said ‘grade’ and not ‘stage’?” Jimmy reaffirmed what he heard. It was “grade”.  I don’t know what that means at all. I have never heard any of those words. I know what aggressive means though, and I am terrified to learn more. Jimmy immediately goes to the web and reads. I am lost in thought. I don’t really remember what I was thinking just lost and confused. I finally, after some time, grab the book Mom left. I start flipping through the pages. So much information. It was clear, and explained much of what I needed clarification on so well. Ductal meant it started inside the milk duct. Invasive meant that it has traveled outside the milk duct and was in the fatty tissue too. Grade 3, one of the most aggressive grades, meant that the cells have mutated so much that they no longer look like themselves anymore, and are nearly unrecognizable next to the cells they started out as. They were cancer at its best. This is some heavy shit. The knowledge at this point does not make me feel better. They don’t know if it has spread. So we get to sit with this information, alone, for a whole weekend. This was the scariest time. The unknown is so unbelievably scary. I really didn’t know how to go about being a person. Jimmy and I did our normal routine Friday night. We got into bed and cried together. Was this really happening? One minute I am breastfeeding my baby, the next I have breast cancer. We said a few prayers and fell asleep.

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To be continued…

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The Day I Learned about Chemo and Implants

Tuesday, June 14th

I decided to work as long as I could. Little did I know that today would be my last day for a long, long time. It was so very hard. Retail already takes a certain kind of person to do it. Day after day you have to be having the best day of your life for every customer. That is a lot of pressure when all you want to do is hide. It was good for me to talk to people and focus on something other than the bird-like looking tumor taking over my bigger boob. This boob also tripled the milk production of the cancer-free lefty. God has a funny sense of humor.

The day was pretty uneventful. The best part of these couple of days was Milo. At 4 months old he started to say “Mama”!  I remember taking a nap and Jimmy sent me a snapchat of Milo laying on him saying “ma ma ma ma ma.” It was everything I needed in life.  I hear most babies say “Dada” first, but Milo knew his Mommy needed him to say mama at that exact moment.  It did not take long before I heard it in person.  Moms, you know what I am talking about.  It is hard to explain all the “feelings.”  When I think I couldn’t possibly love him more, he goes and does something like this. My heart just burst with love for him. These moments are what make being a mom so incredibly amazing. The funny thing is that I never wanted to have kids, like ever, but that is a story for a different day.  I will say that being a mom is by far my favorite thing I have ever done.  I am so glad I changed my mind.


Wednesday, June 15th

It’s been a week since my mammogram and biopsy.  Oh how my world had changed!  Monday started what I am now referring to as my week of doctors’ appointments. I knew I needed a lot of doctors to beat this, but I don’t think you are ever really prepared for the amount of information they give you.  Jimmy and I met with my oncologist today.  She was so friendly. I instantly liked her. She started off the appointment as all doctors do, stating her case to earn my trust.  I had many options when it came to choosing my doctors. I was interviewing her while she was teaching me about what she was able to do for me.  She got out a piece of paper and started writing down everything she told us.  Amazing! Right? Don’t you wish all doctors did this for you.  She put me in a trance with every word she spoke.

In my case, Breast Cancer had 2 or 3 parts. 1) Surgery. This was a must. 2) Radiation. This would only happen if I had a lumpectomy. If I decide to have a mastectomy and no cancer was found in my lymph nodes, I could eliminate this step completely. 3) Whole Body “Systemic.” This was her specialty. It included chemotherapy and the dreaded pill. A 5 year pill that I am told sucks…I will let you know when I figure it out for myself. Then, she explained I can do them in whatever order I see fit.  She explained the positives of Chemo before Surgery. 1) The tumor would get smaller for a better cosmetic result if I wanted a lumpectomy.  2) A live analysis showing how the chemo is impacting the size of the tumor.  3) It allowed more time for the results of my genetic testing to come back. Meaning more time before making a decision on either a lumpectomy or mastectomy surgery. 4) If I decide to have a mastectomy, it would give me time to interview plastic surgeons. Then, she explained the positives of having Surgery before Chemo. Okay, so she really only said one positive; surgery first will allow options for fertility.  Chemo can stop fertility and can make it hard to conceive after treatments.  I didn’t take this decision lightly.  Although babies never seemed to be a part of my future, my whole life could have been so different if I was diagnosed before Milo’s birth.  I knew now that being a mom was my new favorite thing, and it would continue to be my favorite thing until I die… which I plan on being a very very long time from now. Hopefully with a few more babies to love.  I believed from the moment Milo was born, he would need a few brothers or sisters.  I know from my own experience that having siblings is the greatest gift your parents can give you, even if you don’t believe it when you are young.   I didn’t make the ultimate decision until I met with my other doctors. 

She went on to explain the treatment she would implement for me.  Chemo is given through the veins. If I chose to, the chemo could be administered through a surgically imbedded port in my chest.  A port is a device that the surgeon puts under the skin and is a direct line to a vein in your neck. I was like, “Hell Yes, I want a port!”  I hate when nurses are “looking” for a vein.  I would rather be chased by a dinosaur, than let a nurse poke and poke at me again.  This was another positive to having surgery first.  The doctor could put the port in while doing surgery on my boob.  Okay sorry, I got off topic. 🙂 She would give me Adrial/Cytoxan as a combo every 2 weeks for 4 rounds. She said, “it would take a total of 4 hours every time.” Because this drug can affect your heart, she explained I would need an echocardiogram to make sure my heart was working properly.  After these rounds of treatment, I would get Taxol every week for 12 weeks. Then came the many side effects of these drugs. The list is unending and completely overwhelming. She assured me that she would make the sides effects as minimal as she possibly could.  I will lose my hair around day 14.  My hair is very long, and it took me a long time to grow it out.  I understand the idea of losing my hair, but I don’t think I will truly understand until it happens. For now, it is just a thought.  I am not worried or scared about it.  I will feel sick and will be more prone to getting a cold.  If you know me, I don’t get sick… Like ever!  I don’t understand what a cold even is, and I mean that.  If I get a little allergies, my world comes crashing down.  Oh, poor Jimmy.  I can only imagine that I will be a little monster with a cold.  At this point, I still think I am special and will not get sick. (Boy was I wrong!)  I will have fatigue.  Fatigue is different than just being tired.  I can nap for 3 hours and still wake up felling “tired”… that is fatigue.  Sounds like I have my work cut out for me, especially while taking care of a baby. 

Then, she ordered a CT scan and explained she just wanted to make sure the cancer had not spread to other parts of my body.  She scheduled it for the following morning.  Although all the things I am getting ready to go through seem awful, my oncologist had a way of making me feel calm. As we left her office, I just knew she was my doctor.  She instantly cared about me and about my family.  Plus, she loved Milo after all the pictures we showed her.  It is an amazing feeling to know you are in good hands.   

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The Day Milo Napped With Me

After we left her office, we rushed over to the plastic surgeons office. I really needed to pump breastmilk at this point. My boobs felt like they were going to explode, but I didn’t have time to pump.  We walked into his office, and I was immediately weirded out by the waiting room. There were these strange pictures on the walls. One was of an abstract carnival crown; the other had many illustrated people in very interesting clothes and in weird positions around a bar.  The best way I can describe how I felt, is that I was in the waiting room from the movie Beetlejuice. You know, when the main characters died. In a sense, I felt like I was there awaiting my fate. There were not weird looking people in the room like the movie, but being I was in a plastic surgery waiting room, I am sure I will see some characters in the future. Just kidding. 🙂

I was warned by another physician that this plastic surgeon is very quiet but eccentric. Boy was she right… I was immediately impressed with his choice of clothing. He was wearing a bright multi-colored striped shirt with a bright multi-colored floral print tie. I truly enjoyed his outfit. He was soft spoken but began explaining everything he would do for me. Basically, he would come in after the mastectomy and put an expander where my breast used to be. After I healed, he would add silicone to the expander biweekly until it was at my desired size. Ultimately, he would replace it with a permanent silicone implant. He informed us about the implant, how long it would last, gave us some reading material, and let us feel a silicone implant. He continued to talk in length about the recovery process. He said, I would have tubes draining fluid from the surgical area. Also, he wanted to assure me that if I decide to have a single mastectomy, he would lift and reconstruct my other breast so I have a matching pair.  However, I asked if I could leave the other boob the way it is until after I decide if I want more children.  I want to be able to breastfeed even if it is just from one boob. I think he was surprised but agreed that the surgery could happen at anytime. 

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The Day Milo Puked On My Head

Finally, he asked if I had any questions. I said “I don’t know. I am just so overwhelmed.” I looked at Jimmy and asked if he had any. I think he was just as speechless as I was. I understood everything that all of my doctors so far have explained.  I think reality was starting to creep in.  The information helped ease the scared feeling but did little for the raw emotion I felt.  Milo was always on my mind.  Breastfeeding was always consuming my every thought.  I was so overwhelmed with information, but knowing all this “shit” would lead up to the last time I could personally feed Milo was truly the hardest part of it all.  Nothing seemed as important as that… not an implant… or a new perky boob… In the end, it may look like a breast, but its function will be taken away.  It will be purely vanity and will no longer sustain life.  I knew he was great at his job, and I trusted him.  I think that is all that mattered. 

We sat in silence for a minute, and then the doctor asked if he could get my picture. We moved to a different room.  I took off my shirt, and he started to take pictures: first, a front shot and then, a side shot.  As I was turning to the other side I felt it…  My boobs were done. They just started leaking right there. Oh, how embarrassing! I am sure he has seen it all and frankly doesn’t even notice.  However, I was a little mortified.  Jimmy grabbed some paper towels and started wiping up the floor.  The doctor was finished. As I put my shirt on, Jimmy and I laughed.  This was one of those moments only a mom and dad can have.  We were a mom and dad… We were good at it too.  We had been through a lot in the last 5 months, so adding leaking boobs in front of a plastic surgeon seemed fitting.  Jimmy joked that he hoped the camera was low quality otherwise we may have an action shot of milk going out.  Oh my… Wouldn’t that be a sight!  One thing I can say is that my boobs were at their very biggest, so I will get to keep my “milk” boobs forever.  He will try to match them as best as possible. YES!!  His receptionist grabbed a book full of pictures; we looked at his work, and it was beautiful. These women before and after surgery were amazing.  I got to see them with cancer and starting their fight, and then after the cancer was gone with a beautiful perky new boob.  It was inspiring.  I think many people would just see the product but I see the women.  They are strong.  Their lives were forever changed, and they were smiling.  They started were I was scared and unknowing but ended proud and with a new beginning.   She also showed us a young woman who decide not to reconstruct her other breast.  It could work, I thought. They would be lopsided, but no one would know with a bra on.  I am not really that vain, so I don’t think it will really bother me. Jimmy would love me if I had four arms, so I wasn’t worried about him either.  He would probably love me more with four arms.  I could get so much more done.  Heck I would like it too.  I could get things done faster which mean more time to chill.   

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The Day Milo Was a Puppy

We left the office and immediately started looking for an electrical outlet so I could pump. We found one right by the elevators. Thank goodness is was later in the day and not many people were stirring. I pumped out what felt like a ton of milk.  I brought a cover and as people walked by, Jimmy would stand in front of me.  This was another sight.  I don’t think I could do any of this without him.  He is my protector.  I am glad we picked each other.  Through sickness and health… I would have never guessed “sickness” would be less than 5 years into our marriage. Thank God we have been together for 11 years otherwise we might not have made it through this. Just kidding!   Then, we packed up and headed home. My mind was swirling with thoughts, but mostly, I missed Milo.  He is my beginning and end.  Yes, I was fighting for me. I was fighting for Jimmy.  The fight that I embraced for Milo was beyond words.  For Milo, I would not lose.   

“I would never again be the same person I was before cancer, and in a way, I was okay with that.”

The Day the Doctor Told Me I Wouldn’t Die

Monday, June 13th

I opened my eyes, and for a small second, the world was normal again. I had forgotten why my alarm was going off. Did I have to work today? No… Oh shit. I have cancer. It all flooded back in a second. Today was the day. Is this going to kill me? Has it spread to other parts of my body? My head was spinning. Although, I did have a sense of calm. I know it sounds crazy, but prayers do help. I felt different. I was still scared out of my mind, but there was this overwhelming sense of calm that had taken over me.

We, as a family, started our day driving to St. Luke’s for my MRI. If no one has told you about an MRI, get ready to be forever terrified of them. 🙂 I absolutely hated my MRI. I don’t really know what I expected. I did not expect it to hurt me.  I first had to lay face down on this weird slab that had two square holes for my boobs to hang in. Yes, they were square. On what planet do women have square boobs… Anyway, the technician handed me handphones and told me she would play some music to help drown out the sound once the machine started. She started to move me back into the MRI machine. She told me there would be some pressure… Pressure! I felt like I was a piece of meat being packaged for sale. Oh my goodness! I lifted my head up, and my heart started racing. She asked if I was okay. I was so not okay, but I said, “Yeah, it is just really tight on my butt.” Unfortunately, this is normal. My back was contorted in a very uncomfortable way. I have a big butt, and it was being smashed into this sausage making contraption.  My head could see out, but I could not see much. The tech left the room and started talking to me thru my headphones. The music started and so did the sound. It was so loud; it pretty much drowned out the country music playing in my ears. The sound, I could deal with though.  It was the forceable vibration on my lower back that was killing me. I was already in a terrible position, and then I was being banged on in the only spot that already hurt. The forty minutes I was in there felt like an eternity.  I can remember how much it hurt and how tears rolled down my face as I tried to keep it together.  The tech handed me a weird ball looking thing to squeeze if I needed to get out. I wanted to squeeze this ball every second I was in there, but I knew I would just have to go back in so I pushed through. Somehow, I got through the whole thing. My back hurt, and I could barely get off of the bed when it was over, but it was over!  If I never have to get a MRI again, it will be too soon. I promise you; it is just that bad. 

We decided to go home between my MRI and doctor’s visit. As we drove back up to the hospital, they had closed highway 270 because of a bomb threat. Thank goodness it was closed right after my exit, and I am a master at driving in traffic to get through it as fast as possible.  Let me assure you, I am a good driver.  I have only had two accidents, and I blame them both on bad tires. We met with my surgeon.  She showed us my ultrasound, mammogram, and MRI. My cancer looked like a flying bird in all the images.  If only, it would just fly right on out of my boob. That would have been nice. I found out through my MRI results that the cancer was considered stage 2. My doctor said, “You will not die from this… We still have to act fast in treatment.” This was pending the results of my lymph node tests, which would take place during surgery.  All of my prayer warriors came through. Although it was still cancer, we knew it would be at least stage 2. I am beyond blessed. My stress of unknown went away, and we could focus on getting it the hell out of there. It was big; 4.5 centimeters. So like a walnut… golf ball… It was crazy big and didn’t spread.  My doctor even seemed surprised. People think, because I am “young” it was found early.  Actually, this is the complete opposite from the truth. There is no screening for young women.  When we find it, it is already pretty big. The chances of cancer spreading are much higher.  So if you haven’t checked yourself today, go ahead and do it now.  I will wait… I hope all is normal.  Please don’t wait if you feel something weird. You owe it to yourself to live a long, long life. 

We listened to all the options… Lumpectomy with radiation, mastectomy or double mastectomy. Chemo was happening no matter what. Because I am so young, and I don’t want this shit to ever ever come back.  I was shocked. I didn’t think I would have to go through chemo.  I read online most don’t with breast cancer. I was wrong and that sucked. 

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The Adventures of Milo and Jasper

Once I knew I would live, finding out that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed Milo took a hold of me. I felt like I was losing myself in more ways than one.  I loved breastfeeding Milo.  There is a connection like no one can explain.  It was a pure love connection.  We sat in a room processing all of this news for a while, but I kept going back to the inability to breastfeed Milo.  It was devastating.  It felt stupid to care so much about it, but it was my every thought.  Becky, a counselor, came in to talk to us.   She told me what she does and said I could call her at any point.  She asked, “how are you feeling?” Then all of a sudden, the tears fell.  I kept it together so well… until that moment.  I told her, “it seems so stupid, but all I can think about is not being able to breastfeed Milo.”  She was awesome and reassured me my emotions were mine and were real.  I decided then and there that I would wear this heartbreaking emotion for the world to see.  However, little did I know how true that would be.

The women’s center at St. Luke’s Hospital was amazing. I had a secretary who scheduled all my appointments. I needed a surgeon, plastic surgeon, oncologist, and fertility specialist. They were all scheduled for this week. Also, I needed a CAT scan and ultrasound.  This week was a crazy week. It was a swirl of information and emotions. I will tell you about that on a different day.

I went home, snuggled and breastfed Milo, knowing that each time would be closer to the last time. So I would cherish it. Even middle-of-the-night feeding became my favorite time.  Eariler this day, one of my close V Girls, Megan, texted me that Tanalyn and she had left something at my door.  We got home and completely forgot about it as we walked through our garage.  As we got ready for bed, Jimmy checked all of the doors to make sure they were locked.  He looked out the front door, saw something out of the corner of his eye, and said “What in the hell is this?”  He went outside and brought in a giant pink basket full of all my favorite things, and much much more.  I just started to cry.  I was so overcome with joy.  My friends are amazing and spent probably most of their day finding all of these things for me.  I am continually blessed with the love of my friends and family, so be prepared for more stories of selflessness. I have a great support system.  Facebook friends still didn’t know my diagnoses but I posted this because I wanted everyone to know I have amazing friends:

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To be continued…


The Day I Was Showered With Support

Sunday, June 12th

Sunday I was off. I had a bridal shower for a really close friend. I was excited to go for the friends, food, and fun. I was nervous because I knew no one there knew yet. Except Julia, my cousin. The first person I called after Jimmy and my mom. She was my savior that day. All of my close friends were there. We are the V girls. V stands for vagina. We were in high school when we came up with it. No boys allowed! I know, it is pretty funny now. This is why we changed it to V girls. I put on a brave face through the whole thing. I sat separate from the girls. It was just Julia and I at a table. We didn’t plan it that way, but I know now that it was what I needed. We didn’t talk about it at first. It was easy to make small talk and not think about it. Julia and I talked for a little about what I had learned, which wasn’t a lot. Then as the shower came to an end, for some crazy reason, all the girls stayed except 2. We were the last ones there. All of these crazy coincidences are God. I know that. He works to help me get through this. God gives me all the things I need. I was so nervous. I don’t know why, and this was the first time I felt that way. These were my girls. We had stayed friends for over 10 years. We didn’t see each other a lot but we had so much fun when we got together. It always felt like no time had past. I hated to tell them on Tanalyn’s shower day. I hated to do that to her. This was her day. I knew I had to though. I want to tell them together, and in person. This was one of those God moments He gave me. I remember asking them all to gather around. I started by saying I have something to tell you guys and, Tanalyn, I am so sorry to do this today on your day. I was diagnosis with Breast cancer on Friday. I started to cry, then all of the sudden, I felt the biggest and best group hug of my life. We all hugged and cried for what felt like forever. This was the most amazing thing to experience. I felt the love pour all over my soul. These were ugly cries, not the pretty ones you are thinking of. 🙂 They were so supportive and wanted to know everything I knew. They wanted to help. They wanted to fix it. They wanted to take it all away. They couldn’t. We talked, and slowly the tears turned to laughter. They were going to help me through this with laughter, love, and support. Life can hurt you a lot sometimes but the people you surround yourself with help lift you up. They were all so encouraging. Everything they said will live with me forever. I was told, “You’re a bad bitch! You will kick cancers butt!” I love them all so very much.
Sunday night was stressful. Jimmy and I were so scared of the unknown. I, for the first time in my life went to Facebook and asked for prayers. I was vague and didn’t say why.

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The day I asked Facebook for prayers

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To be continued…

 

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The Day After the Day I Found Out

 

Saturday, June 11th

The next day was a blur of working. Yes, I went to work the very next day. What else was I supposed to do, sit around and worry?

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The day I took a selfie with Bri.

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The day I started my new job

Work was hard, very hard. That day happened to be the Race for the Cure in St. Louis. I know, weird. You would think that would make me feel better, but it didn’t. It was like I couldn’t escape. People were shopping in my store with their race t-shirts on. I felt like everywhere I looked I was reminded of my new diagnoses. I just wanted to forget for a while, but I couldn’t. On my breaks I just sat in the office and cried as I pumped breastmilk for Milo. What a very hard thing to do. Pump milk from a boob with cancer. A boob that could kill you is also feeding your little boy. (And yes, I asked the doctors more than once if it was okay to continue breastfeeding) I joked with my coworkers about dying and how Jimmy would have to find Milo a new mom and give him brothers and sisters. Most people at work didn’t find that funny. It is so awkward to tell people that you have cancer. There is no breaking the ice, and it always feels forced. I didn’t want or need the sympathy. I wanted them to know why I was acting so weird. Everyone was so kind. I started to hear what became the main response to hearing my awesome news. I AM SO SORRY. I felt their sincerity, and my main response soon became Thank You. What does all that mean… I still don’t know. I am sorry… They are sorry. They feel bad for me. They hurt for me. They feel for me. Or maybe it is just the right thing to say. Maybe they say it without feeling because they know that is what is supposed to be said. And me, then there is me… Thank you… Thank you for what? For being sorry? It is not the right response but it was all that I had… Slowly people would say, “I am praying for you” or “You are in my thoughts”. That deserved a Thank You that meant something. So, anyway like I said before, there is no wrong thing to say because even I don’t know how to respond. The work day was over. I drove home with thoughts swirling through my head. I never thought “I can’t fight this”, but I did wonder for how long I could fight it. Remember, at this moment I didn’t know anything except that it was an aggressive breast cancer.

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The day I hung out with Dominique.

Dominique, my sister, came over that night. We both really didn’t want to be alone. We watched tv, hung out, and talked. Milo was sleeping, so it was just the two of us. I showed her the book Mom brought over and I explained breast cancer. We both learned more about different kinds, grades, and stages than I hope anyone has to know. We could have cried but we didn’t we just hung out and had a good time.

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The day we went to the Miley concert

 

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To be continued…

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