Staying strong & finding hope—up against the odds
“The cancer, I’m afraid, is in your bones. Once it leaves its primary site and begins to travel, it’s quite difficult to control.” He glanced up and went on, “You need to get your affairs in order.” There was a brief pause and he added, “We can try some chemo, but I won’t make any promises.”
It hit me that he meant I had stage four breast cancer. It had progressed so far that the percentages were dismal enough to make the surgeon I had met just shake his head rather than quote them to me. Now they were talking about me.
I’ll never forget my next words, nor will my husband Larry, as he was feeling as though he had been punched in the stomach. He couldn’t believe how evenly I fired them out.
From my spot on the exam table I looked down at the doctor sitting in a chair.
“I’m 26 years old and that’s the best you can do for me?”
He nodded his head slowly. He thought that was the best he could do. He thought it would be best that we begin chemotherapy as soon as he got back from his skiing trip.
SKIING!!! I was dying, and he had the nerve to tell me he was going skiing. I had never been so low. Never mind that he told me to get my affairs in order. Seriously? How many affairs does a 26 year old have?
He proceeded to show us the chemotherapy area and hand me some more pamphlets. I was getting quite a collection by now. We left the office to walk into a cold, dark night. It matched my thoughts perfectly. That night’s ride home seemed to take hours.
There wasn’t much to be said. I was defeated. We went home and I called my mom, telling her it didn’t look good.
December 17, 1998 had become the worst day of my life.
Lying in bed that night I asked Larry if he was scared to be alone. His response broke my heart. “I’m not scared to be alone; I’m scared to be without you.”
…My story starts off pretty tragically and scary, but please know that the outcome is good. I emerged from the initial devastation of my diagnosis with a different outlook and with strength. If cancer does one thing, it insures that your life will never be the same.
Though it was cancer that was the stimulus for change in my life, I know that there are many other factors out there that can set the ball in motion. I believe, more than anything, that how we handle challenges determines who we become.
It has been well over a decade since I found out that I had stage four breast cancer. I made it through thanks to the love and support of my friends and family – connected by a strong faith in God. I also found a fantastic medical team that took an aggressive approach to killing cancer.
My Battle: The Whole Story
What started out as a collection of letters to my baby girl grew into a book: Every Day We Are Killing Cancer. My book tells the story of my battle with stage four breast cancer. It details the procedures and treatments I went through, the emotional ups and downs, the amazing support from the people I love and the transformation I experienced as a person.
I know the power of hope, and I will do all that I can to promote it. This book is not a how-to and there are no magic potions listed. I do know that each of us can make an impact, so why not start there. When I was diagnosed and looking for inspiration, it was so hard to find. That is why I would like to share my story with you. If this story speaks to you, please take a look at my memoir, Every Day We Are Killing Cancer.