I have cancer - what a weighty statement. It feels heavy when I say it. It shocks people when they hear it. Some visibly recoil, most are stunned and speechless. Sometimes, you can see and hear hearts break. I am a private person, but it is foolish to think I can keep this a secret. Frequent appointments, and the after effects of chemotherapy will tell everyone anyway.
October 11, 2016, was both the best and the worst day of my life. On October 11, I was diagnosed with HER+, ER+ breast cancer. It is curable, but the treatment plan is a bit daunting requiring chemotherapy, surgery, and possibly other therapies as well. I am fortunate to have access to some of the best doctors in the world at Massachusetts General Hospital. I got this. It will just take a bit of time (and patience).
Why was it the best day? After I processed the shock, which still hits me at times, I know this journey will help me to always remember what is really important in life: family, friends, and making a difference in the world. I will always remember how precious life is, how important it is to appreciate those I love and the world we live in. Apparently, sometimes I need a shift kick to learn my life lessons.
I’ve always worked in healthcare, and I take great pride in making a positive difference to the diagnosis and treatment of illness. The nerd in me finds being on the other side fascinating, and I’ve rapidly gained a reputation amongst my doctors and nurses for asking ‘interesting questions’. One of the first things I did when I started chemotherapy was to look up which pharmaceutical companies are responsible for making me better, so I can thank them personally if the opportunity arises. I know that many of you were involved in bringing the therapies that will cure me to market – I can’t express how grateful I am, thank you!
I struggle to think of myself as a cancer patient – sometimes it just doesn’t compute. But, then I remember that I don’t have hair (which I hate beyond measure) and it comes back into sharp focus. I completed my first round of chemotherapy and have surgery scheduled in a few short weeks.
I am continually surprised and humbled by how supportive everyone is, quite unbelievable actually. I am grateful beyond words. I couldn’t do this alone and fortunately, I don’t have to. The journey continues – I got this.
World Cancer Day