Forgiving My Body After My Cancer Diagnosis
In March of 2015 I was 36 years old and 32 weeks pregnant, and is also when I was diagnosed with stage 3 triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Being TNBC means it was not the increased estrogen from my pregnancy that was fueling cancer. Also having no cancer history and going through genetic testing I learned I had no genetic mutations (at least of those the scientists have identified thus far). When I first got the diagnosis, I was in disbelief. How could this be? I was growing life inside of me, how could I also be growing a tumor that could kill me? I was at a healthy weight, I ate as organically as possible, I have run half marathons and marathons and now CANCER? How did my body betray me like this?
Starting treatment and delivering a baby
I started my chemo at 34 weeks pregnant. I had two rounds of AC and then was induced to deliver my daughter. My “warrior” week was delivering my daughter Anna on Monday, receiving two blood transfusions to be strong enough to get my third round of chemo on schedule that Friday. It was that week I was filled with so much joy, welcoming my beautiful and healthy daughter to our family, while also being reminded of my sickness at every turn. Again that question of "why did my body betray me" would creep back into my mind. But as a reflection on that week a few years post cancer, I am thankful for my strong body that allowed me to deliver Anna while also receiving the harsh strong medicines I needed to kill the cancer that was growing inside me.
After treatment reflecting on everything I had endured
After getting through my treatment which included, chemotherapy (both AV and taxol), a lumpectomy and lymph node dissection and then 6 weeks of radiation instead of thinking about how my body betrayed me which consumed my thoughts early on, I focused on how strong my body was. From March of 2015 till November 2015 I was a warrior! I was diagnosed with cancer, I delivered a baby, I received several blood transfusions, I endured 5 months of chemo, a surgery, and radiation. And after all that I was still standing!
Cancer can not define us. It can not take away our inner strength. While I was in treatment my dad rode in the PanMass bike ride, 200 miles over 2 days. On August 7, 2016, my 1 year anniversary from surgery after which the doctors said I was cancer free I rode the PanMass with my dad, another reminder of how strong and resilient our bodies can be.
Living and learning to forgive my body
My journey towards forgiving my body included 3 main things:
- Take back the control - Sometimes bad thing happen, and sometimes we have no control of those things happening but feel the need to gain control. I changed my lifestyle after my cancer diagnosis. I left corporate America which added huge amounts of stress in my life (bad stress) and started my own company. While owning your own company is still stressful it is mine and I love every moment of it. I spend more time with my kids, my husband, family, and friends. I spend my time living my life on my terms.
- Meditation - This can sound scary and intimidating but it is worth giving it a shot. After I drop off my kids to school I spend 5-10 minutes meditating and visualizing my day and week. It helps me put things into perspective and allows me to have a little "me time" in my busy and demanding schedule (I own my own business and have 3 little kids).
- Being grateful - As upset as I was originally with how my body "let" me down, at the end of the day I was so grateful for how my body fought. Our bodies are resilient and will work really hard for us.
Caregivers: Do you practice self-care?