This whole breast cancer “thing” is turning into the crazy detour I never meant to take. Like most unexpected veerings, it’s had its moments — and, if I’m honest — both good and bad.
I was diagnosed in 2010 with stage I, ER+ breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy and radiation and I thought that would be the end of it. In the Bay Area, where I was living at the time, breast cancer is such a common occurrence that most people shrug it off when it’s mentioned. “Oh, pfft, you’re going to be fine. Everybody gets breast cancer.” Was an actual, real sentence that actually came out of a fellow human being’s mouth hole.
Well, two years later, it turned out that actually, no, I was not “fine” after all, because my cancer had returned and metastasized. These days, I’m in treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale and I’m still here. Fighting. Proving the actuaries wrong. Making my insurance company mad.
When I was re-staged with advanced breast cancer I knew this wasn’t great news, but I also felt very strongly that if I had to be on the receiving end of this diagnosis, there had never been a more hopeful time than right now. And I am nothing if not a hopeful person. Oh, I have my moments, but my coping strategy has been very defined. I follow two simple rules:
1. No Sad Things
I don’t watch sad movies, read depressing stories, or surround myself with gloomy people. Say what you will about me burying my head in the sand, or whatever — I just don’t see how focusing on the negative will help. I try to keep my vibration high. That means finding the silver lining (however thin it may be) and laughing as much as humanly possible. I definitely wrestle with some huge anxiety issues, but I’ve found it’s pretty difficult to be anguished and joyful at the same time. “Wah!? Haha!?” Go on, try it. I dare you!
2. If It Won’t Hurt, Give It a Whirl
I put a lot of faith in good ol’ fashioned Western allopathic medicine. Actually, a ton. But after checking first with my oncology team to make sure I can’t do myself any real physical harm, I am the first one in line for the latest and greatest in New Age Quackery and quasi-spiritual weirdness. Why? Because I already know that it can’t hurt, and just maybe it will help. Trying new things gives me food for thought and best of all, this stuff often makes me laugh. (See rule number 1.)
And lastly, partly because I make my living as a writer and editor, but mostly because we live in the days where nothing is really happening unless it’s documented in social media, I created a blog to share my experiences. As my treatments change and things progress, so does my story. It’s not always funny — but I promise it is always honest.
So, this is the road I’m traveling. I’d love to have your company. Especially now that I’ve learned there’s an exciting new detour up ahead, the happiest kind: my baby girl, due this summer via gestational surrogate. Shall we buckle up? I think it’s going to be a heck of a ride!