I am not blogging to get sympathy or to rag on anyone. This is solely therapeutic and a chance to let my story be heard……
We were high school sweethearts, we were hopelessly in love. We left home to start our life together. There were struggles and there were easy times, but we managed to conquer every obstacle that was in our way. We were living a so called normal life, we had four children, a dog and all the “toys”. After years of trying to make a better life for ourselves we were finally living a fantastic life. Then, April 1, 2014 I was diagnosed with Stage 2 lobular and ductal breast cancer at age 35, I had a mass on my breast bone, a mass on my collar bone and a mass on my breast muscle, apparently it had been growing for two years. The next year of my life was the hardest, or so I thought. I had a mastectomy, lymph node dissection, lumpectomy and a sentinel lymph node dissection. I had to endure chemo, which caused me to lose my hair, become depressed, become a very mean person(which I don’t remember), memory loss, vomitting, severe diarrhea and gain 30 lbs.
My doctors advised me that because I was young and healthy (ok, having cancer is considered being heathy?), I would undergo aggressive treatment. I tried my first chemo on my own, trying to take care of the kids (twins age 9,7,2). I’m not sure if it was my first chemo or second, but I broke down and realized I couldn’t do this on my own. At that point, I realized who truly cared. I received help each chemo for a week, which wasn’t long enough, but I accepted what I could from the few people who extended a hand. I would be sick for almost three full weeks which brought me up to another chemo. There are so many stories I could share about the things I endured during chemo or the things my caregivers could share that would make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
Here is one story that stands out. It was two weeks after my chemo and my husband wanted us to go back to his work with him in GrandFalls for a week. I wasn’t feeling well, but I decided to go anyway. At this stage of chemo I had chronic diarrhea, but I still had four children to entertain. On this particular day I felt pretty good, so after I put the laundry in the washer at the laundromat, I took the kids on a walk, to the park and then grocery shopping. I started to feel sick, so we headed back to the trailer, I just managed to make the kids lunch and bring the groceries into the trailer when I had to go to the bathroom. Once in the bathroom I couldn’t move because I was too sick. 45 mins later, I managed to crawl out of the bathroom to my bed. I started to cry because I didn’t have the groceries put away and I didn’t get the laundry picked up at the laundromat. I remember one of the kids saying, that’s ok mom, we can do it! God love my precious boys, they put the groceries away, took the laundry basket and walked to the laundromat. They walked back, three of them carrying the one basket of clothes and hung it on the drying rack outside. I feel so guilty that my children had to see me being helpless and having to take care of me when they are so young…….a time I should be taking care of them.
There were days I would ask myself, “why me, why not someone else?”. I was afraid of death and all I could think was, I am going to die. What would happen to my children? How could my husband work and raise our four children? Although my biggest fear was death, on my hardest days I thought death would be the easiest way out. The only thing keeping me alive was the love for my children, I had to keep going for them.
Finally after six rounds of chemo, it was over……now on to radiation. I suffered through 29 radiations, which was Monday-Friday, while still taking care of my family. I was blistered and burned from my chest bone all the way around to my shoulder bone. The day came when my aggressive treatment was all over, I still had to receive a treatment every three weeks that wouldn’t end until June. What happened next was just as hard, depression set in and I cried every day because I started feeling pain and thought the cancer returned. I needed to get away, I needed to escape this life and everything that reminded me of cancer. I underwent testing to see if the cancer returned, thankfully it was confirmed that my cancer did not return. We decided that we would take a family vacation. I thought that would help with my anxiety, it only made things worse. I ended up seeing a psychologist, which helped tremendously. I was finally learning how to cope with the feelings of being abandoned by family, learning how to forgive, learning how to cope with anxiety and the guilt I was feeling. Little did I know, I was about to face a bigger challenge in my life. What could be bigger than dealing with cancer and fighting to live for your family?
Facing infidelity and feeling victimized…….