My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women


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My Life In Two Parts

When I go on vacation, I take thousands of pictures.  I can’t help it.  I love looking at the world through the camera and I’m afraid that if I don’t document every moment, I will forget it.  This drives my husband crazy.  He just wants to keep moving and exploring.  I want to take a picture of that beautiful flower bud with the river in the distance.  We differ in that way.  But always…always…when push comes to shove, we have amazing memories to look back on.  Inevitably, when we look back, we come across a picture and we realize that it shows a moment that we had forgotten.  A moment that, without that picture, might be lost forever.

The other night I was looking at our first and last vacation as a family, just Ken, Oliver and I.  We went to Oregon.  I had always wanted to visit the Pacific Northwest and we decided that this would be the perfect first trip to take with a toddler.  There’d be lots to see and do, great food to eat, wine tasting, hiking, culture, ocean…everything.  And this vacation delivered.  It was June of 2014.  Oliver was 18 months old.  It fell on our 6th anniversary.  But after it ended, one week later is when I found my lump and our lives changed forever.

I haven’t looked at these pictures in a very long time.  It feels like a lie.  A fraud.  Looking at our smiling faces…we were ignorant of what was coming.  Of what was already growing inside of me.  I look at those pictures and I know what in the next chapter.

I see those pictures and I’m scared for the people in them, as if it wasn’t me or my family.  They are another family.  It’s going to happen to someone else.  I cry for them because they don’t know what’s about to hit them.

I think about my cancer then…laughing…mocking me…like a thief hiding in your closet only to come out when you’re not looking to take everything that’s precious to you and turn your home upside down.  Cancer stole so much from us.  It turned our lives upside down.  But when I look at those pictures, all I see are those unknowing, unsuspecting people.  And I just want to scream at them to beware of what’s lurking.

I now think about my life consisting of two parts; before breast cancer (BBC) and after breast cancer (ABC).  I often look back to the time before breast cancer and long for what I had.  It wasn’t perfect. Is anything ever perfect?  But we were happy.  We were traveling, which was a goal of mine for Oliver.  I was satisfied with my career and beginning to think of the next steps.  I started thinking about the possibility of having another child even though I had said, “one and done.”  My life was developing and moving forward.  These pictures remind me of that.  It breaks my heart.

After breast cancer is much different.  I have trouble seeing the future in the way I used to. I don’t know what my life is supposed to look like now.  I don’t know what I want to do or where I want to go.  What are my goals?  What are the next steps in my life?  It’s like cancer is the glue that sticks me to this past year and half and won’t let me move forward. And these photos, however beautiful, however memorable, remind me of that.

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Do you view your life in two parts; before breast cancer and after breast cancer?


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What A Difference A Year Makes

remember

This weekend was crazy and almost a week later, I’m trying to recover.  Between Halloween and my husband running the NYC marathon (which meant I ran my own marathon making sure to see him), I’m wiped.  Seriously wiped.  But throughout this weekend, I was forced to remember what life was like just one year ago and it’s crazy to me how far I’ve come.

Just one year ago, I completed my second chemotherapy treatment.  Just two days later it was Halloween, Oliver’s second and I was starting to feel yucky.  I was still doing ok but I put on a brave face because I wanted Oliver to have a great Halloween.  I wanted to go trick or treating.  I wanted candy.  I wanted the fantasy that the day provided.  I wanted to pretend that my life, as I was living it, was not real.  So we walked for hours and maybe miles.  I pushed my body.

One year ago, Halloween 2014.  My hair had just begun to fall out.

One year ago, Halloween 2014. My hair had just begun to fall out.

Then, just two days later was the NYC Marathon and Ken was running it for the second year in a row.  He very much wanted me to come and see him, at least in one spot along the trail, if not two.  I woke up that morning feeling that indescribable fatigue that comes with cancer treatment.  That feeling like your body has been filled with led but your head is floating.  Your tongue is swollen and your lips are dry.  I got out of bed, got into the shower but barely made it out.  Actually, I crawled out.  I tried to get dressed, still determined to leave.  But when I could barely get myself dressed, I knew I wasn’t going to make it out.  I knew that if I pushed myself to try to see him I could literally be killing myself.  So I stayed home and watched his progress on the NYC Marathon app on my phone.  And cried.

This year, I am starting to feel more like myself again.  Well, as much as I can be with still experiencing fatigue and the problems with the cording and lymphedema.  But I didn’t have to pretend I was happy or healthy during trick or treating this year.  I just was.  I was able to focus on the joy of the holiday and watching Oliver as he mastered saying, “trick or treat” and walk up to people as they gave him candy.  He had his serious face on.  He was going to fill his bag with as much candy as possible.  “We’re going to the next house, mommy?”  And we did.  Because we could.  Because I could.

Oliver was a Fiffer-Feffer-Feff from Dr. Seuss's "ABC Book."  His choice!

Oliver was a Fiffer-Feffer-Feff from Dr. Seuss’s “ABC Book.” His choice!

DSCN2866 DSCN2868 DSCN2889And we got to watch Ken run his third marathon.  We stopped in two spots, one in Brooklyn and then we got the VIP treatment by getting Grandstand passes to see him at the finish line.  It was stressful trying to get to him on time.  The trains were running horribly that day and I thought we were going to miss him both times.  But we made it!!!  And Ken finished in just over 4 hours.  Amazing!!!!

IMG_3666 IMG_3700IMG_3687unnamedIt’s hard for me to remember the pain I was in just one year ago and how helpless I felt.  But life is moving on.  Not how I expected it to, necessarily.  But it’s continuing.  I’m continuing.  And I won’t look back.


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Enjoy The Rest Of Summer

coney

Friends,

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.