Every doctor told me the lump I found in my left breast was a typical fibroadenoma. Nothing to cause worry, in fact, I was given the option to simply monitor the lump rather than have surgery to remove it. I wasn't about to stress myself out with all that, I wanted it out of me. So in March of 2018, I went in for a routine lumpectomy. 5 days later, at the age of 29, my world was flipped.
As a teacher, my students are the center of my world. I didn't want to stress or worry them, but I knew I needed to tell them. I was going to frequently be missing school for appointments, and they would have questions. Telling them, my family and a few friends was the extent to which I was willing to discuss my new “medical situation”. At this point, I viewed cancer as this medical procedure that would last 5 months and be done. It was all very factual, list oriented and detached. My husband, at the time, didn't have much to say about it, and I starting journaling a lot.
April 17th, 5 days after turning 30, I went in for a my double mastectomy with reconstruction. I planned to be back to work before the year was done. Even though my students were so supportive, caring, thoughtful and loving, I didnt want to be away from my job. Being a teacher is a huge part of my identity, and I felt like I was losing it. Instead, teacher was being replaced with “cancer patient”, and I hated that.
Needless to say, I underestimated the mastectomy. Physically, mentally, emotionally… my parents left after about a week, and I was stuck in the house. Limited range of motion. Lonely. At some point I went through IVF to harvest eggs. And 3 days before chemo, they harvested 22 eggs. I hated everything about that process. I was angry.
Chemo started in May, and I still wasn't back at work. My parents came to take my to all 4 rounds of AC, and friends took me to 12 rounds or taxol. We honestly had so much fun on those days. Traditions were made, I started sharing my story publicly, and I decided to own that part of my new identity. Upon doing this, I found myself in a community of amazingly strong, beautiful and empowering women. I saw my journey in their journey. I felt hopeful.
Some days I want my old self back. I look in the mirror, no eyelashes, sparse eyebrows, faint hair, no partner, boobs that are numb and require more surgeries and think, why? I have to remind myself that it's a journey, maybe not one I wanted or planned, but its mine.
Instagram - @musicjewlz