I’m a single girl in the big city of Atlanta. I’ve always been resilient. I’ve always been a fighter. My biggest fear used to be getting a critical illness while single. Well, my biggest fear came true in a very big way.
I had never felt so scared and out of control than when I was diagnosed with stage IIA invasive lobular breast cancer. I had to get 16 rounds of chemo. That was hard to comprehend. My tumor was growing aggressively, so we had to first contain it and then shrink it as much as possible before surgery.
My treatment was utterly traumatic – loss of hair, fingernails, mouth sores, tongue swelling, nausea and more. Then add chemo brain and chemo induced neuropathy to the mix.
After my lumpectomy/reconstruction and reduction, I had 33 radiation treatments which ended two days before my 40th birthday. I burned so badly that my flesh started peeling off under my arm. My left breast was burned, and the beams went straight through to my back and burned the side of my neck.
Little did I know that my post treatment would be even worse.
My body couldn’t tolerate Tamoxifen, Evista or Lupron injections. Once again, my body betrayed me. The pain was excruciating.
My oncologist and gynecologist consulted with each other and determined that I needed a hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo oophorectomy. They felt this was the only way to help reduce recurrence by medically inducing me into menopause so I could take an AI.
I’m still single and will never be able to have children of my own. My body was resistant to Arimidex as well. I fall into the 25% category of breast cancer survivors whose body cannot tolerate any of the medications to help prevent recurrence in both pre and post-menopausal women.
I was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. I feel like 142 years old instead of 42. My rheumatoid specialist said the Fibromyalgia was a direct effect from my cancer treatments. That was another punch in the gut.
My message to cancer patients is to be your own advocate, question your medical team, and ask “why” instead of just accepting everything they say.
Know at some point you’ll go through the stages of grief, especially if diagnosed under 40. Cancer takes away so much physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s important to build a circle of support as you process all that has happened once you’ve moved into post-treatment or maintenance treatment.
I have never lost my sense of humor. Though my perspective on life has changed dramatically, I’m still that zany southern belle who wears tiaras, fascinators and always a little “extra.”
Cancer can’t take away the essence of you.
Instagram - @warriormegsie