Hear Us: Tales of A Young Metastatic Breast Cancer Gladiator

A series of struggles and triumphs overcoming metastatic breast cancer

On Christmas day, I layed on the cold bathroom floor with my arms hovered over the toilet seat. Instead of smelling sugar cookies baking in the oven, I smelled my vomit from the night before. I swept what was left of my reddish-brown hair from my face and another matted, crusty clump fell out. Three months into chemotherapy and I wanted to die. My body couldn’t endure the poison traveling through my veins. Like a broken piece of glass, my spirit and soul had also shattered into a thousand pieces. In one day my life was no longer mine to control. In one day, I would lose my sense of self and identity as a woman. And in one day, I would learn I had Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC).

In One Day,
screaming inside,
no one can hear
my desperate cry.
In One Day,
with urgency they swarmed
as though this was the finale
and I had to preform
In One Day,
the battle had started
actors in place
the lead, disheartened. 
In One Day,
one final plea,
WHY is this TUMOR
happening to ME? 

Looking back, I knew something was wrong. I knew there was a reason I was so relentlessly tired all of the time. I knew the small lump on my breast was getting bigger, but I chose to ignore it. I was afraid of what the doctors would tell me. After all, most of my life I had to be diligent about self-breast care. I, of all people knew the risk I was taking by ignoring this lump that was going to change the course of my life forever.

In 2009,  I discovered a lump which turned out to be a cyst. Because my mother had tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation, my doctor highly recommended that I also be tested. I too, tested positive, but I wasn’t ready to do anything about it. I wasn’t ready to have a prophylactic, bilateral mastectomy, and a full hysterectomy. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that there was an 80 percent chance that one day I would have breast cancer.

I filed that information away as if it were a pile of laundry I’d just get to later. I hate laundry as much as I hated having this information floating in the back of my head.

BRCA what does it mean?
Should I, or Shouldn’t I
the UNKNOWN, yet to be seen.
Ignorance is bliss
many would say
facing the DEMON,
or just slipping away.

Two years went by, and I still hadn’t done anything with what I knew. I was a wife and mother, and I didn’t want to give any of that up. In 2011, I noticed a small lump in my left breast. I ignored it because I kept telling myself it was just like before a cyst, no big deal. Month after month went by as it continued to grow,  and I knew I needed to get it looked at. I also knew deep down that the outcome wouldn’t be favorable.

One of my mother’s dying requests was that her oncologist would take me on as a patient. With trepidation, I made the three hour drive to Kansas City and bravely walked the corridor of the Westwood campus where I would be seen by a breast cancer surgeon.

Panic set in as I waited for the exam to begin. Racing thoughts and questions entered my mind and I couldn’t turn them off. What if it was cancer? How would I deal with it? How would I be able to take care of my kids? Who would I be able to count on to help me? How would I survive financially?

Changing into the cotton gown the nurse had left for me I tried to get comfortable on the chilly exam table. I heard voices outside the door and my heart started racing knowing the time had come. Like the broken pieces of glass, the questions trailed unanswered and scattered, unable to piece together. Unable to comprehend why this was happening. Unable to cry or feel anything. In only two minutes the surgeon looked at me and said, “I’m so sorry it’s breast cancer.” I thought, ‘I’m only 36.’

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