Monday, April 30, 2012

The struggle for peace

So for the past 3 months or so I have been doing some serious avoiding. Avoiding the reality of my diagnosis and what still lies ahead for me. I have just been enjoying living so much! I have been running again, yoga-ing, crafting and I've even taken some sewing classes and finally learned to use my sewing machine. I was suppose to have my reconstructive surgery in March, but my right "problem child" breast was not stretching very well so they decided to post-pone my surgery until May. As much as I wanted to get the surgery over with I was also not looking forward to "going back to bed" as I refer to the recovery process. So I just delved into enjoying life even more!

Now May is here and I had my pre-op appointment last Thursday. The plastics doc says that things look pretty good for me and that when he is done I'll be laying on the coast of France on a nude beach somewhere...I asked him if he was paying for the trip, he laughed so I guess that's a no go, but I did appreciate his confidence. He assured me that this would be an outpatient surgery with much less risks for infection and that it would be much easier than the mastectomy even though they have quite a bit of reconstructing to do...or he tried to assure me.

 I must admit that I am anxious about going back in for more. It was even hard to go back to the Stanford cancer center after a couple months of freedom from Cancer related medical visits. I saw so many stages of what I had been through sitting in that waiting room...the scared new patients, the women sick and weak from chemo, the woman with the drains hanging out of her shirt who had just had her breast removed, the lady who like me had the finally growing in short hair and smiled in comradery, all fellow soldiers in an ongoing battle.

That's whats been hitting me finally these past few weeks is that this is an ongoing battle. I would like to pretend that because I have made it through some of the roughest parts that it is over, but as the next stage begins I am forced to acknowledge what still lies ahead for me and the unknowns that still exist.

That's the thing about me, I want to be ok. I want to celebrate life and live and focus on the positives. I am just so happy to be alive and so happy that they caught my cancer early and that there was a way to get rid of it. But then there is the other part that I avoid or hide that is the lingering realities of having Breast cancer and having both BRACA-1 and BRACA-2 genes. I still have 2 operations ahead of me in May and at the end of July to reconstruct my breast, because I am 31 years old and I do want to have breast again. I then have screenings every 3 months to check my ovaries due to my heightened risks of ovarian cancer related to those BRACA genes and blood tests to monitor my risks of re-occurrence and other cancers related to the BRACA genes. I will have to have another operation to remove my ovaries before the age of 40, but I am keeping them for now in hopes that I will be able to have a child (or children) after my surgeries this summer. There is also the unknown of triple negative breast cancer, which means that it is not caused by proteins or estrogen or progesterone, so they are not sure what causes it and cannot provide a treatment to prevent it in the future.

This is where I am. I am struggling to find peace with this all. Sometimes I feel like I avoid it or deny it but I also think that in some ways I just refuse to let it define me or consume my life. I like to live in the good place and celebrate the positives in my life, sometimes I just visualize myself riding the waves of cancer or bending in the wind like a tree in the storm. I will always be the optimist and celebrate life and continue to focus on what wonderful blessings I have in my life and Cancer has only intensified my love for life and tightened my embrace on life! I have faith that whatever may come of the aftermaths of Cancer and the unknowns of my diagnosis that I will survive the storm and ride the waves.

Yes, I am a Cancer survivor and a fighter and I will have to keep fighting, I don't get to hang up my armor just yet and i may always have to keep it handy for the risks that I face. I am learning that I have to accept that this is part of me now, a part that I have to incorporate into my identity and a part of me I have to find peace with. I can't just hate the sick part of me, I have to learn to admire her for what she went through and not deny her but embrace her. I have seen so many people going through this battle of Cancer who have not been as fortunate as myself and who have had to endure so much worse, which makes me so grateful and appreciative for what I have. Sometimes I feel that it makes me deny myself the ability to appreciate my own struggle because I see it as easier or "it could have been worse", but I am learning that I cannot deny my own fight no matter what degree of difficulty it entailed. Because no battle with Cancer is easy and all of us survivors and fighters must embrace our strength, endurance and our fight for life. We are all veterans of the war struggling for peace.





Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Beauty and the Beast

The Beast....
On August 29th I had a complete non sparring bi-lateral mastectomy. They took all of the breast tissue out of both of my breast, took both my nipples and my sentinel lymph nodes on my right side...I am tempted to change the "my"'s in this sentence to "the" but I guess that may be because they are no longer mine. Strangely I did not feel a huge loss about losing my breast per se, but I definitely woke up from that surgery changed forever and feeling the loss of my old "normal body".

I woke up heavily sedated and in and out of pain and awe at the freakishness of my body after the surgery. It all felt so strange. I have never been seriously injured or needed surgery before breast cancer and I have always hated needles, blood and detailed medical scenes. I love CSI, Greys Anatomy, Law and Order SVU...but I always look away when they show the bodies and gore. I think one of the scariest things for me was to look under the bandages after the surgery, I was scared I couldn't handle the sight. Fortunately, Dr Magic Hands at Stanford sewed me up nice so I was pleasantly surprised. The drains on the other hand were completely disgusting and I thank my mother and husband so much for helping me with them. I will spare you the details of the drains...just know they are completely annoying, gross and just a pain in the ass!

I showed up for my follow up with Dr Magic Hands September 8th...wore my lucky underwear hoping this would ensure the early removal of my drains....the underwear are no longer "my lucky pair". Dr examined me and all looked well he was hopeful about removing the drains too...then he pressed on my right breast and suddenly fluid came out of the incision. This led to a whirlwind of various doctors coming in and out poking, prodding, cutting open and then the waiting. Lying there just waiting for an answer to what was going on. Luckily one of my best buds was with me and he whipped those Stanford docs into shape and they made their decision...back to the hospital for me! Noooooo! It was the first game of football and the Packers my husband and best buds favorite team! We had plans! Infections were not in the plans!!!!!!!!

See that's the thing about the beast, the cancer beast can tear you apart it can mutilate your body and make you bleed, suffer and fight to regain your strength and just when you think you have the beast contained, you think you have enough strength to get back up and get back on the road....Guess who decided you WON'T be watching the game with your friends in the comfort of your home....cancer.

I was back in the hospital and on Friday September 9th they took  me back into the operating room and had to clean out the infection in my right breast. They were able to clear out the infection and  keep my breast expander in which is allowing me to continue with my breast reconstruction, which was the best news. They had to sew things up and back together again inside me so when I woke up I was in a lot of pain, more pain than they had planned for. It was one of the worst days of my life. I had never felt pain like that before. I guess that's another well known quality of the beast, to show you pain like you have never seen or felt.

I was released on Sunday September 11th only to return on Tuesday night via the ER with pain, redness and swelling in my arm. The ER was crazy, but isn't that the nature of the ER? I feel like at this point the beast could do nothing to surprise me...I believe I was in some sort of state of shock or maybe just forced acceptance. I went through hell that night starting with the ER nurses attempting to access my port with a needle that was too short and then insisting on making it work and then casually being wheeled into get an ultrasound of my arm with NO meds and the ultrasound technician squeezing my arm with all her might to get the blood flow going! And just the pure number of old peoples butts I was flashed that night! They decided the next day that I had an infection in my arm from the IV from my last stay and they wanted to keep me one more night to monitor me and administer antibiotics.

Minutes before they were going to take me up to my room they asked if the could move me for a few minutes to the xray room across the hall. They barely got me to the hallway as teams of nurses and doctors wheeled in a man that was non-responsive. There were so many doctors and nurses around the mans bed that many of them looked so helpless. I saw this glimpse of humanness as many of them frantically worked to save this mans life but that some of them just had to stand back and watch. I watched there faces as if they were a mirror to the bed letting me know if the man was going to live or die. The chaos stopped and many of the nurses and doctors smiled, people breathed, a few men clasped their hands together shaking upward (to the "man" in the sky), the patient was stable. How do you get on that ride everyday? At the end of the day somebody has got to fight the beasts....we can't do it alone.

The beast had ravaged my body, but it wasn't done with me. I began my second round of chemo October 10th. This time around I was joined by my stepmother who was now fighting her own beast, her own breast cancer. This made me hate the beast, this made me angry...ya finally I was pissed off! How could God let this happen? How could he let the beast get to her? But I soon figured out that was what the beast wanted...he wanted me to stop believing in the good, the positive, the ultimate plan and lose faith. Instead the beast gave me an amazing soldier to go into this next battle with...to cry with, fight alongside and grow with.

We went through 4 cycles of a chemo regime hahaha regiment called TC. TC is a combo of 2 drugs,Taxotere and cyclophosphamide, and they suck! This chemo made my first round of 6 cycles of chemo seem like a cake walk. My body ached so bad I had to take hard core pain killers and my stomach and bowel problems were awful and seemed never ending through the entire 3 months. I spent so much time drugged up to avoid the side effects and wishing the days away so it could just be over. After the first cycle I began to lose my hair. It started one day and within about 4 days it was all gone. The beast continued to wreak havoc on my body until the end. It beat me down until my white blood cells were wiped out and then the beast stabbed at my heart when the doctor told me I couldn't spend Christmas with my family because I could not be around groups of people.

 December came to an end. January I had my follow up with my oncologist and he assured me the breast cancer was gone. I had an ovarian screening (not fun!) and it was clear. All looks good so far. Having the BRACA 1 and 2 genes still worries me at times, it feels like the beast is lurking around and could rear his ugly head anytime. The beast has taken a lot from me and left me nursing a lot of wounds. But we all know how the story goes right?? There is the beauty....

The BEAUTY...

A blessing in disguise...You don't know what you have until its gone...Within crisis are the seeds of opportunity...Was cancer really a blessing? a gift? and opportunity? Ask me in the beginning, middle and today and my answer is the same...."yes". Yes it has been a hell I would never wish to go through or wish for anyone, but there is a beauty in it all.

What happened to Scrooge when the ghosts of past, present and future visited him? What happens on those shows/movies when people get to visit there own funerals and see a glimpse of their own life from afar...I  feel like this is kinda like what going through cancer has been for me.

When I was first diagnosed I can't even explain the beauty of the out pour of love, kindness, encouragement and support that immediately surrounded me. As the news of my diagnosis traveled the love and support was overwhelming...how had I touched so many lives that so many people cared so much for me? It was beautiful...it was a gift to see this before my eyes...my living eyes. I cry tears of joy even as I write this because I am and forever will be touched by each and every one of you who reached out to me during this crazy journey. The beauty of human love and kindness was so amazing. The gift of love was visible in a way I have never seen before.

Lesson 1 was tough but beautiful: How to receive love and support. I love to love. I love to give. I was missing an important part... how to take in love and support. Cancer helped me learn to accept from others. There were times I could not physically or mentally do for myself and I had to learn how to allow others to do for me and also ask for help. This is a lesson I very much needed to learn. I never realized how you can deprive people and almost act selfishly when you don't allow them to give back to you or to help you. Once I was able to open myself to let others give, love and support me I learned how much joy others could have in doing for me...it was beautiful. I grew, my relationships grew and we are all stronger.

Life is beautiful. What would you do if life was taken away tomorrow? Would you be happy with the life you had lived? I now had a new lens to look at life through. There were so many things that I still wanted to do with my life when cancer came along. I hadn't even began to get my career started, I was suppose to be this successful doctor of psychology helping kids and families and I had just started making some money for once! My husband and I wanted a family and we had just been getting ready to start. It seemed that so much of my life was being taken away by the beast! So you have the choice look at what you don't have, what you are losing or look at what you DO have.

I have had an amazing 31 years of life. I have followed my dreams of working with children and their families and I have not made a lot of money doing it but I have been able to touch many lives along my journey of becoming a doctor. I have met and enjoyed the company of so many amazing people and been touched by so many lives and they have touched mine as well. I have formed an amazing network of friends who are each a gift like none other. I have a loving family who support me in whatever I do. I have the most amazing best friend who has had my back to the fullest since age 12 when we became inseparable soul mates for life. I have met the love of my life who has loved me in a way I never could have imagined being loved and cared for. I have a place to lay my head at night next to an amazing man and food to nourish my living body. I have the love of God and all the blessings in life that he has provided...Life IS beautiful.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". When we look in the mirror we want to see something beautiful looking back. I took at least an hour to "get ready" every day making sure I could get my hair and make-up just right before leaving the house. I have obsessed over my weight since high school always striving to be "skinny" and fit and look good in the latest fashions. I was actually feeling my best about my body being close to my goal weight and feeling fit when cancer came along. Steroids, medications, and lack of exercise changed my body and my second round of chemo took my hair and eyebrows and gave me a crazy rash reaction all over my face and body....now define beauty. I thought I would freak out about it all, I thought I would hide in the house and be embarrassed to go out. But again in the face of the beast Beauty shone through. I never realized how much beauty I really possessed until those surface things were taken away. Once my "looks" were gone I found a gorgeous confidence that I never knew I possessed, glowing love, compassion and kindness that shimmered and glittered like no eye shadow on the market, a smile brighter and more beautiful than any hair color I have ever had and the most beautiful thing I see in the mirror every morning is being alive! The best part is my wonderful husband who every day tells me how beautiful and hot I am as I walk around the house with my bald head, no eyebrows and in sweat pants...ohh did I mention my beautiful taste in men ;)

The Beauty in cancer has shown me things about myself that I can't imagine learning any other way. It has been an ugly, scary and painful process...it is a beast. But if you can look past the fear, monstrosity and pain you can see a beauty beyond your imagination. My faith has been tested through this process but in the end I am closer to God and his plan for me and I am renewed in his love and amazing grace. The power of life is so much greater than us and sometimes we get lost in trying to create a life we are proud of thinking that owning a home, a nice car, marrying, having children, a good stable job, nice clothes and the latest gadgets will make us happy....but what is it that we are really living for? I have had so many opportunities of the latter taken from me in the past year which has left me to look at life so purely and look at the basics...What makes life beautiful? What makes me happy? What will continue to make me happy if I never obtain those material things or societal accomplishments? When you have a glimpse of what it might feel like to have your life taken away, you realize the most beautiful and amazing thing is to live. Do what makes you happy, spend time with those who you love and show you love, share with the world the talents and gifts you have been given and have faith that all else will fall into place if you just believe in the beauty of life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Our Champ!

Thank you to all of Natalie's family and friends, your support has been amazing.  It's been about 9 days since her surgery and the recovery process is moving along beautifully.  It's definitely come with quite a bit of pain and discomfort, but everyday she's making progress. 

Through this process there have been so many of you wondering how to contribute and asking what can be done for Natalie and Peter to help them through this process.  There are three links on the right side of this blog for some great ways to contribute and donate. 

  • My Registry Wish List - Donations go directly to Natalie to utilize for items she needs to help her through this journey. 
  • American Cancer Society - Donations go directly to the ACS in the overall fight against cancer.
  • Mealtrain Delivery - Donations provide Natalie and Peter with ready made meals

Again, thank you for all your support, thoughts and prayers,

Team Natalie:-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A long road

I had my last chemotherapy treatment on July 21st. I passed out and vomited for the nurse and made sure to go out with a bang! I guess by then my body had had enough! I had had enough! I have had enough!!!

There was so much excitement at the end of my treatment, we all hoped the tumor was gone, the doctors were having a hard time feeling the tumor so I think we all took it as a good sign. If the tumor was gone I would probably not need any chemo after surgery, when they originally thought I would need at least 4-6 more cycles. I had an MRI, mammogram and ultra sound on August 1st. That morning was the MRI, it looked good! Then in the afternoon I had my mammogram and ultra sound. I think the technician could sense my anxiety and asked me if I had any questions. I asked if she saw anything and she showed me the tumor in excitement of how much smaller it now was....she didn't know that I was hoping it was all gone.

I was devastated of course. I wanted this to be the end. I did not want more treatment. I did not want traditional chemo. I didn't want to lose my hair and get sick worse than my first round of chemo. I couldn't stop the tears. All the strength and optimism I have had through this fight seemed to dissipate as I hit the floor mentally and could not pick myself back up. I looked up and I told God "You are gonna have to carry me now!!"

This month has been a struggle for me. I think I almost lost the fight in me for a while. But faith is strong ....and you know what so am I. Yeah my armor is kinda busted and I am one very tired soldier, but I want so bad what is on the other side of this. I want my life back! I believe there is a purpose for this experience and that it will in the end influence my future somehow...don't have that one all figured out yet but I know I have already changed so much and learned so much.

On Monday August 29th I will be having my surgery. I am having a bilateral mastectomy with tissue expanders. Translation: They will be removing both of my breast (everything except the skin) and putting in expanders (that are small implants that they slowly fill up) to stretch my skin for permanent implants in the future. And for all you inquiring minds, yes I will be "upgrading". Heehee :) After my surgery I will be in the hospital for a few days and then go home to recover for about 3-4 weeks. During that time they will dissect the tumor and see how much actual cancer was left, which will help determine how much more chemo I will need.

I have to have faith right now, it is saving me. But not just faith in God, but also my family, my friends and myself. Its so easy to get down, to see the bad, to focus on it, to wallow in it and then slowly start to live in it. But this too shall pass, unless I don't let it.

The following is a saying I heard or read early on "I have cancer, cancer does not have me". It took me a little fighting to really understand it. Cancer can NOT have ME! Somebody very special to me reminded me who I am yesterday. My Dad was cheering me up and shared with me his perspective on how people see me. He then asked me if I was proud of the person I was, not what I had accomplished or achieved, but of the quality or type of person I was... So screw you cancer you can't have ME! because I love being ME!! Big 'ol cheerful, hopelessly optimistic, positive, caring, loving ME!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Stanford Medicine babay!

March 11th I started the neo-adjuvant chemotherapy study at Stanford. Neo-adjuvant is just a fancy way to say "pre-surgery" or before surgery. Cancer sure does have its own language, makes your head spin sometimes. Lucky for me I ended up with the best oncologist EV-ER Dr. M! Dr. M has an awesome sense of humor and a very caring bedside manor and always makes sure I understand what is going on. Needless to say I have been in good hands!

The chemotherapy I am getting is a little different from what they call the "traditional chemo". My treatment includes 2 chemo drugs and an experimental drug. The experimental drug is named Inipirib but the docs and infusion nurses call it BSI. To me it looks like mountain dew, which i hate. The BSI was designed to target the cells that the chemo killed and not allow them to grow back (or at least that's my understanding). The chemo drugs I am getting are not suppose to make you vomit or lose your hair and the recovery between treatments is quicker.

I had a meta-port installed the friday before my first treatment. The meta-port is a silicone type circle about size of a nickel and it has a tiny tube that comes out of it and then they insert this into your vein. The port allows them to draw blood and deliver chemo with a special needle through the port and then your only get stuck once a day! Mine is installed below my collar bone. My schedule is chemo plus BSI on Mondays and BSI only on Thursdays for 2 weeks and then I would have the 3rd week to recover. Those 3 weeks are called a cycle and I will have 6 cycles.

I had my first chemotherapy treatment on March 21st. It was scary and emotional day. I was surrounded by some amazing supportive women that day fighting the same fight (and of course my amazing hubby and mom). They first accessed my port and drew blood to check many things including white and red blood count, iron levels, liver enzymes, etc. Then I received my first bag of chemo (30 minutes), then the 2nd chemo drug (1 hour), then the BSI (1 hour). I felt like shit!! ICK! First of all you feel like that girl who turns into a blueberry on Willy Wonka because you are so bloated a full of liquid poison. I felt disoriented, tired, queasy and my sense of smell seemed heightened so the smell of just about everything was disgusting to me. The day after treatment was worse than the day of. I felt weak, nauseous, my head hurt and the nausea medication made me sleepy. The 2nd day after chemo, Wednesday, seemed to be the worst...I felt like I had just gotten hit by a truck! The nausea, weakness and exhaustion intensified.  Thursday meant it was time to go back to Stanford and get the BSI only treatment, it was not suppose to cause nausea....but for me it did.





Monday, May 16, 2011

The Battle Begins

Like the strongest of armies my loyal, strong, loving soldiers assembled immediately. My Amazing husband rushed home from work as soon as he heard the news was "not good". My Dad and Becky extended so much love, warm embraces and nurturing as they took us to their home and fed us, loved us and helped share the devastating news with family and friends. And we all know my wonderful, die hard Momma would have been here the second she heard my broken hearted little voice, but I was in cahoots with my awesome Step Pa Scott who was helping me ensure she got home safely from work before I told her the news, that I knew was going to break her heart. She and Step Pa rushed down as soon as I told her...of course! and YES, I AM BLESSED!!!!!

Of course I was terrified about having cancer, but I was also amazed by this overwhelming feeling of love and comfort from others as I shared the news of my diagnosis with my friends and family. I know I said this to a few people I talked to that night "If someone has to go through this I'm probably one of the better people to do it because I have so much amazing family and friends who are going to support me through this...I've got an army to fight this battle with". And that was it. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to fight this hard. no question about it. Cancer picked the wrong bitch y'all!! (Sorry that is my favorite cancer saying so far).

So what do you do the day after you get diagnosed with cancer and you wake up and you think "ohh yeah I have cancer!". The temptation to go sky diving was there but I decided to hit the town with as many people as I could rally and have as much fun as possible...ok maybe that's called avoidance but it was really really FUN! My mom, step pa, BFF Erica and her amazing hubby Scott, Mike and Lindsay Brenner and I hit Capitola and Santa Cruz hard! Drinking, bowling, drinking, SC boardwalk, drinking, mini golf, video games, Wii party! It was an amazingly fun day and my family and friends helped me cry and laugh through a tough day. Thank you all so much for that day!

The next day it was time to face reality a bit. We met with Carol, who is a nurse navigator at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) where I am being treated. Carol was great! She gave us SO much information on breast cancer and introduced us to the many many intricacies of breast cancer including the different types, the testing process to determine what type I have, the different treatments for the different types, fertility issues...This is where my heart broke a little. I was armed and ready to fight breast cancer, but I had not even thought about breast cancer impacting my ability to have children. Peter and I were excited about getting pregnant sometime in 2011, but we realized this was going to delay things, but never did either of us think this might take our chance away, we were both a little heart broken. This is still the one part of the whole cancer battle that is hard to handle.

Carol helped us understand the slue of  doctors we were lined up to meet over the next few days and the roles each of them would play in my treatment. First, we met with Dr Dakkuri a surgeon at PAMF and a real sweetheart. Dr. Dakkuri was wonderful in helping me and my entourage (Peter, Dad, Mom and Step-pa) understand more about the type of Cancer we could be dealing with, the testing that would determine the type  and my options for treatment and surgery. Dr. Dakkuri had me return to Carol for the blood testing that would tell us whether or not I had one of the breast cancer genes (called BRACA 1 and BRACA 2) The following day we met with Dr. Glen Wong an oncologist at PAMF. He elaborated further on the types of breast cancer and the various treatments. We discussed all the possibilities and then we waited for the results...

The results came a piece at a time. First, I got the call that it was "triple negative" breast cancer. I cried. Then I laughed because I couldn't remember if that was good or bad, so I called my Dad who explained that it was good for my chances of having a baby naturally because I wouldn't need long term treatments, but also was considered by the doctors "more agressive" because it was not growing off hormones or proteins. Then I got the call that I had not one but BOTH GENES!

BRACA 1+ BRACA 2= Stanford Cancer Center

Having both genes, I found out later, was extremely rare. I had a 1 in 400-800 chance of having one gene and....drum roll please.....bddddddddd....1 in 640,000 chance of having both genes! Craziness. Having one of the genes qualified me for a clinical trial at Stanford Cancer Center and having both of the genes made me "the golden child" of the Stanford clinical trial :) Well at least that is how the study coordinator and I described the doctors and researchers excitement at the ability to see how someone with both genes, ME, responded to the treatment. Especially since women who had one of the genes were responding significantly well to the treatment.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My funny Valentine...

February 14, 2011. Valentines Day. The day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. WOW! What a shock. Here I am getting into the best shape of my life and now I have the C-word! I am still not sure that the shock has worn off yet... So here I am sitting in Stanford Cancer Center getting my chemo and starting a blog. My amazing girlfriends and I wanted to start a blog so that we can team up together to keep in touch and share the details of my journey with all of my amazing friends and family...My Army...My Team!

It was January 2011 and I was hard at work on my New Years resolution, mastering push ups. I have always struggled with push ups and my trainer friend had been encouraging me to conquer them. I had been working hard and I was sore and tight in my chest area and the top area of my breasts felt firm....strange!?! I waited thinking that the firmness was a result of my hard core push up training. Then after a little over a week the soreness and tightness were gone, but my right breast was still very firm...it felt like a golf ball was trapped inside. After another week and no change in the golf ball I called and set up an appointment with my primary care doctor on February 5th. My primary doctor felt the golf ball and was surprised at the size and the short time in which the golf ball had appeared, she stated that she was pretty sure that the golf ball was a cyst and could be removed or drained (gross!). The doctor also examined my left breast and felt a small growth in it and then suggested that the best course of action was to have a mammogram and ultra sound on both breast.

February 8th, 2011 I went in to have the mammogram and ultra sound at Palo Alto Medical Center in Santa Cruz. The radiologist was shocked as I described my discovery of the, according to him, “3.9cm wide” golf ball size lump in my right breast. He asserted that "we need to biopsy this and figure out what this is"...Ohh crap! I thought we were all sure that this was just a cyst? Now I was signed up for biopsy on each breast for February 10th.  I was completely freaked out. I requested sedation. Needle insertion into the breast…need I say more it was unpleasant. Fortunately I had taken some time off of work. It was a Thursday so that meant we had to wait until Monday for the results…Happy Valentine’s Day!

I spent the weekend mostly trying to distract myself, stay busy, drink wine, all those great “coping skills”. Hahaha! “Remember your coping skills” that’s what I tell the kids at work. Peter and I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Sunday evening because he was going to have to work late Monday night. I spent the beautiful sunny afternoon cooking for our romantic night. I took a moment that day and sat out on the deck in the sunshine, which was playing a game of peek-a-boo using the clouds to momentarily hide and then burst through with its warmth and light onto me…I felt something greater than me and then an epiphany. I suddenly knew what the news was going to be for me the following day; it was going to be Cancer. I asked God “Is this what you need me to do? Is this what I need to go through?” . The warmth of the sun covered me and I felt the answer and I felt my faith. Whatever this journey was going to bring I believed what my Aunt Anna told me “If he brings you to it He will bring you through it”.

Monday morning came, I went to work and was greeted with Valentines from my co-workers. How did I such a wanna-be Martha Stewart forget to bring Valentines or atleast some candy or cookies for my co-workers?!? If you know me this was SO out of character for me!I went on with the work day with the anticipation of my test results weighing heavy on my mind. I was on my way to a important meeting at The Department of Children’s Services when I received a message from my primary care doctor that she had some results for me and “it was not good”. What the heck!!??!! “Not good”! So now I had to sit through a 2 hour meeting wondering what “not good” meant. I hopped in the car after the meeting, called my doctor and headed over Hwy 17 to get there asap! Realizing I didn’t want to hear the news alone I tried to call my Dad…no answer. Then I called Becky, my amazing step-momma, who of course rushed over immediately to be with me. Umm yeah my step-momma is way cooler than yours all I gotta say! Becky was awesome she held my hand and held me up as I heard the hard news…you have breast cancer.