It has been a milestone week, full of joy, emotion and gratitude. A year ago, November 1, I woke up with an itch, the one simple feeling which led me to discovering I had breast cancer. Now, one year later I am here, alive and thriving. Not only am I thriving, this week I heard a word that transformed my world, CURED. I spoke to a breast cancer oncology doctor whom I was referred to by my oncologist for a second opinion on my outlook and medications. This doctor changed my thinking and gave me great hope for my future. While I understood I was in remission and was cancer free, I had not yet received news which gave me clarity on my outlook. She told me that we have done everything possible to prevent the cancer from returning and while I had to take this detour on my life for the past year, after I finish my treatment, I should consider myself cured. CURED?! She told me I needed to finish my herceptin treatments (for HER2 postive cancer) and remain on the same medication plan my oncologist has already prescribed, but that from the standpoint of how I live my life I can and should return to having all of the same hopes and dreams as before my diagnosis. This discussion and confidence in her as the expert in the field was just what I needed to move forward with great hope.
Now, more than ever, I really believe in the power of positive thinking. There has been many moments when I have doubted or been afraid and full of worry as to whether we would kill all the cancer or if it was to return. I was reminded that we have no indication as to why I had breast cancer, there were no genetic markers, I was overall in good health and I was at a young age. With all that being said, while there are no guarantees, I lived my life prior to the lump without worry and I only hope I can try to do so now that my chances are back to square one. In connecting with other survivors this is likely going to be one of the most difficult of mind games so I am prepared, as best I can, for the bad days. One of the advantages I have had mentally is that I have never once thought of this as my death sentence. This week I was asked if I ever questioned whether I was going to die, and I can easily say “NO”. I started with the thought I would get rid of it in a month, so it was completely the opposite. Maybe I underestimated the cancer slightly at the beginning and is more like an 18 month detour, but it is and never was a change in my path or a defined end. I just hit mile 12 on this half-marathon of my journey and I hope to coast it out to the finish line.
In addition to the great news from the doctor and feeling great 1 year post the tumor discovery, I finished my first American Cancer Society Making Strides walk as a survivor. We started the morning with a beautiful pink sky in Nashville and while a bit chilly, it warmed up to be the perfect morning. I am so grateful to all of those that came out and walked to spread awareness.
Team Good Better Best raised over $5500 for breast cancer research and to help those in need suffering this disease. The other survivors I have been are so inspiring and it was a joyous morning of smiling faces, with a few tears along the way. This may not be how you want to meet people, but I have met some of the most amazing women through this journey and I can only hope we stay banded together and I continue to meet and am able to help more women on their journey. (Pic of Prints, Names, and Years of survivorship: Angela Pacheco, 6 months.)
I can also now share the radio interview I did here in Nashville to raise awareness for breast cancer and the Making Strides walk. You can listen in here “We are Making Strides” with Anna Maria. A nurse navigator shares information on cancer and I then share my story. Please talk to your friends and family about their health and the importance of check-ups, early detection can really save a life. And if you ever need someone to talk to or have a friend in this situation, please reach out, we are all here for each other and I do know there is great hope!
Have a wonderful Sunday my friends and for those of you with daylight savings time, enjoy the extra hour!!