My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women


When Are You Going To Have Another?


Hello everyone in the breast cancer world and beyond. Long time, no write! I hope you have all been doing well. I know I have not written in a while. But I have found that my life is revolving less and less around breast cancer. I still think about it all of the time, I still worry about it coming back, but largely, it is no longer consuming me. Writing here was my therapy. It still can be but I’m finding I don’t need it as much…until something happened recently.

I was having dinner with my son and I bumped into an old friend. It was wonderful to see him and to catch up on life. We hadn’t seen each other in many years. When it was time for us to say goodbye he suddenly asked, “So, is Oliver going to get a brother or a sister?” And then he winked. And without thinking I just replied, “No, because I had cancer five years ago. And because of treatment I can’t have anymore children. Chemo kills everything.”

He paused. His eyes widened. He had heard that I had cancer and immediately apologized, remembering that he knew that I had gone through that. And suddenly, I felt bad for shaming him.

I don’t know why I replied so curtly. Usually, when someone says that to me (usually some old man that I don’t know who is appalled that I’m not contributing to the overpopulation of this planet), I just smile politely and say, “this one keeps me busy enough,” or something pithy like that. But, for some reason that night the question, “is Oliver going to get a brother or sister” was like a stab right in the gut.

Largely, I have made peace with the fact that I can’t have another child naturally. I have decided that fertility treatment is not for me and my husband and I decided to make the best life we can for the family that we have rather than spending time and energy trying to grow it. I’m happy with that decision. But once in a while, still, when I see people growing their family, because they have that choice, I get jealous and angry all over again. That wound opens easily.

And recently, Oliver, who is almost 7 has been saying, “I wish I had a brother or a sister, but I understand why we can’t.” Or, “if you didn’t have cancer and chemo didn’t kill your eggs, would you have given me a brother or sister?” My heart breaks for him. He’s an only. An only child in the whole family. No siblings, no cousins, nothing. When we die, he’s literally the last one standing. I carry a lot of guilt around that.

And I know, family is not just blood. Family is what you make of it. But still…cancer has taken away from Oliver the family he could have had. And that’s not fair to him.

So, yeah. I’ve been dealing with that a lot lately. The guilt. The shame. And that interaction last week has brought it all back.

One step forward, two steps back.


The Grass Is Always Greener

I had another pouty session for myself recently.  I got the results of my blood test back from my oncologist and, for right now, they are reading as post-menopausal.  When your cancer is ER+, this is the news you want to hear.  You want your body to be making as little estrogen as possible.  I have be purposefully and likely permanently put into menopause.  While I suppose this is good news, I’m really very depressed by it.  I never minded getting my period that much.  It’s not like I liked it or anything (I had terrible cramps and crazy mood swings) but getting it every month let me know that my body was still working and healthy.  It was something I could count on.  I knew exactly when it was coming (often down to the hour) and it made me feel like a woman.

I haven’t gotten my period in nearly two years.  Sometimes I mention this and a woman’s first response is “Oh, that’s so awesome!!!!”  I can see why one would say that.  But the loss of my period is directly linked to my loss of femininity.  Not only is that thing that made me a woman, that I could count on every month, gone, but so is my ability to have more children.  And that just fucking sucks.

Sometimes I forget that, in reality, I’m really very lucky.  Yes, cancer was shit and it’s the gift that keeps on giving but, I’m here and, at least for now, I’m not going anywhere.  While I complain about being forced into menopause, I know that there are many women who wish they could be on medications like Tamoxifen or Zoladex (which I’m off of right now) to keep cancer at bay.  Women who are triple negative or diagnosed stage IV.  But sometimes I think about the women who are not ER+, (who would give their right leg to be on this medication) and think, well, at least they have a shot of having a baby (if chemo didn’t force them into menopause).  It’s stupid.  It’s insensitive.  But it’s how I think sometimes.

Sometimes the grass seems greener on the other side.


But knowing that in many ways I have it good, I don’t want to forget that this can change tomorrow.  My luck could run out and I might wish for the days of hot flashes and infertility being my biggest worry.  I know that at any time I could become one of the 30%.

So, to continue with this October breast cancer month thing that we’re in, I want to highlight a couple of organizations that are working on a cure for the only breast cancer that kills, stage IV.  While all breast cancer sucks and the treatments for it have the most awful effects, there is no cure for stage IV, only treatment and management.  This needs to change.  Like, yesterday!!!!!!  These organizations are fighting the good fight and are dedicated completely to finding a cure.  There are no fancy advertisements.  No pink boas or ribbons.  Just research, research, research.  If you have some money that you have been aching to donate, I urge you to consider donating to METavivor and Metup.

Here’s METavivor’s mission.

METAvivor is dedicated to the specific fight of women and men living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. At the time of METAvivor’s founding, no organization was dedicated to funding research for the disease and no patient groups were speaking out about the dearth of stage 4 cancer research.  While more and more people have taken up the cry for more stage 4 research, METAvivor remains the sole US organization dedicated to awarding annual stage 4 breast cancer research.

Here’s Metup’s Mission

MET UP is committed to changing the landscape of metastatic cancer through direct action. We protest and demonstrate; we meet with government and health officials and researchers; we support research into metastatic disease; and we speak out against the sexualizing of breast cancer. We are convinced that the deaths of women and men from metastatic breast cancer are a paramount issue, and we pledge ourselves to oppose all who deny the reality of the 522,000 people who will die from metastatic breast cancer globally every year while waiting for a cure to be found.


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Enjoy The Rest Of Summer



Ken, Oliver and I will be taking a staycation for the rest of the summer.  While I can’t quit social media cold turkey, I will be taking a break from blogging until we get back…unless something incredibly dramatic happens, of course.  Enjoy the last days of summer!  I know we will.

Here are some older posts to look back on in the meantime.

How I found the lump.

On bravery and cancer.

Preparing for hair loss with cute scarf ideas.

Chemotherapy sucks.  Here are the side effects from weeks one, two, three and four of AC.

That time I had to explain hair loss to my not even two year old.

An eyebrow tutorial, because I had fabulous eyebrows before this shit show called cancer.

Dealing with the prospect of not having any more children.

I got NYC to celebrate my last day of chemotherapy with me and it was awesome!

The day I decided to take my scarf off and let the sun shine on my head.

What to expect at your first radiation treatment.

I have been dealing with axillary web syndrome or cording.  And it sucks.

We can’t all be perfect, positive outlooking (is that a word?), brave cancer fighters all the time.  Sometimes we get to lose our shit.

10 ways to entertain a toddler while undergoing cancer treatment.  Because even cancer doesn’t give you a day off.

15 random things about me.

And finally, wise words from Dr. Seuss.

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Mommy Mondays (On Tuesday…Again): Big Belly

Oliver is at that incredible age where he wants to know everything.  EVERYTHING!  “Mommy, where does water come from?” “Daddy, what does ‘ummmm’ mean?” “Mommy, where do almonds come from?”  “Mommy, do you have a big belly?”

Now, before you assume that Oliver is one cognitive leap away from, “your mama’s so fat” jokes, rest assured, he’s not commenting on the shape of my body.  He is not judging my jean size or my belly size.  A few weeks ago after tumbling class, we bumped into one of the little girls and her mother that were in the class at the splash pad.  The mother was very, very pregnant (I say “was” because there’s no way in the world that baby is still inside her now…congratulations!) and Oliver went up to her and pointed and asked, “she has a big belly?”  We answered honestly, letting him know that there was a baby in there.  Of course, he wanted to see it and we had to explain to him that the baby was in her body and we couldn’t see the baby until it was born.

“Mommy, am I born?”

“Yes, baby, you are born.  You have been born for 2 1/2 years.”

“Mommy, I’m not born yet?”

“Yes, you are born.  You are not in my belly anymore.  You came out of my belly a long time ago.”

“Mommy, I’m not tiny?”

“No, you’re a big boy now.”

“Mommy, I am born?”

And the conversation goes on repeat for a while.  There’s something poetic about the way he asks these questions.  Something innocent and pure.  I love talking to him about it even though I know his little brain can’t comprehend how this all happens, how he got on this earth and how I grew him in my body and now he is out.  But I try.

This morning, I was talking to him about our neighbor who is pregnant with her second child.  Her son is one of Oliver’s best friends.  Oliver is sick right now and can’t be around other children for a few days.  He wanted to see his friend but I explained that we couldn’t get his friend sick or his mother sick because there is a baby in her belly.  He lifted up my shirt, put his little finger in my belly button and asked, “Mommy, do you have a big belly?”  He was asking if there was a baby in there.

“No.  No, sweetheart.  There’s no baby in there.”  My voice was soft.  I brushed his hair back with my hand.  Kissed his head.  “You don’t have a baby in your belly.”  “No.”  He left it at that, moving on to the next most interesting subject, granola.

There is going to come a time soon when he looks at a lot of his friends and he realizes that they have brothers and sisters.  Not all of his friends will, of course, but many of them will and do.  There’s going to be a day when he comes up to me and says, “Mommy, I want a sister.”  Or, “Mommy, can you have another baby?”  And I will have to explain to him why the answer is no.

I will have to explain that cancer took away our choice to grow our family and despite there being other ways to do just that, finances don’t really allow it.  I will have to explain cancer.  I will never tell him that one reason we will not grow our family is because the risk of trying could equate to suicide.  I don’t want to get cancer again because I chose to stop medications or tempt fate with more estrogen pumping through my body.

I hope he will understand.  Sometimes children want what they want and they can’t see past reason.  I think it will break my heart if he is disappointed by not having a sibling.

I don’t claim to be in a unique situation.  There are thousands, no, millions of people who can not grow their families for a variety of reasons that are beyond their control.  Infertility, cancer or drug induced infertility, finances, career, space, etc…  I am not special in that way.

But this does not take away from the fact that there is going to be a conversation that will happen sooner rather than later as to why other women can have babies in their belly and I can not.  I will find a way to explain it to him.  I always do.  I just didn’t expect the questions to start so soon.

Before Oliver was born. While he was still in my belly.

Before Oliver was born. While he was still in my belly.



photo taken from

photo taken from

Lately I’ve been looking back at old photos and videos of Oliver.  I go back and relive the day he was born, his first smile, little snuggles, his funny faces…all of it.  I’ve been looking at them and yearning to hold that child again, wishing I could go back in time.  Crying at the fact that I will probably never have that again in my life.

On the way home from work today, I was listening to WNYC on the radio and a new show came on, Living Cancer, a ten-part series on the new science in cancer treatment.  Today’s story was about a young woman with a husband and young son, probably about my age, who was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had been debating with her husband for a while as to whether or not they wanted to expand their family.  Then, one day she found a lump in her breast and it was diagnosed as breast cancer.  When she had routine blood work done before her lumpectomy, she learned that she was pregnant.

It was risky, but she went ahead with her surgery and the fetus survived.  Under careful watch of her oncologist, she underwent chemotherapy and the fetus survived.  She delivered a healthy baby girl who is doing well.

I think it takes an incredible amount of courage to proceed with a pregnancy knowing that there are possible risks in doing so, to yourself and your unborn baby.  I think it takes an incredible amount of courage to abort.  I don’t know what I would do if I were in her situation.

But this is what I do know.  I wish I was her.  I wish I had an oops and found out that I was pregnant.  I say this not knowing if I really want another child.  Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.  But my body wants another, and badly.  I see newborn babies in carseats, strollers and carriers and I ache; with jealousy, with wanting and longing.  I look at pictures of Oliver and want to do it all over again, even the sleepless nights.  Why does this woman get to bring another child into her life and I do not?  I’ll never know.  I just know that I wish my impossible was possible.  I wish I had a chance.  I wish cancer didn’t kidnap my future daughter or son.  Jealousy.