Having just returned home from a trip of a lifetime with family and friends and getting ready to begin my nineteenth year of teaching, last minute appointments were scheduled before the craziness of the school year. Little did I know that one of those appointments would be anything but routine. This August, at the age of forty-one, I was diagnosed with locally advanced, invasive breast cancer.
Like many women, I had been told that I have dense breast tissue, making imaging difficult. While I was diligent about my regular check ups, the type of cancer I have was not able to be detected by mammogram; rather it was discovered quite incidentally by ultrasound. When I received my diagnosis, I knew that my whole world would be forever changed.
I have given much thought to all the roles I play; wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, teacher. It seems every relationship has been changed by my diagnosis. With the overwhelming help, support, and prayers of family and friends, I have been able to focus on my treatment and my physical, emotional and mental well-being. I know the journey ahead will be long and challenging, but it has been manageable with incredible help from family, friends, and my amazing team of doctors.
The light at the end of the tunnel is burning brighter as I approach the end of chemotherapy, and I am ready for the next steps of surgery and radiation. My hair is starting to grow back and my check ups are showing positive response. I only hope that I can use my experiences to serve as a resource to other women who find themselves on this unexpected journey as so many have done for me.
It can be hard to believe, but there is life after a cancer diagnosis. To quote Cayla Mills, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have”. This struggle is helping me to be a better, stronger person than I ever thought I could be. I know I still have so much to learn and many things to work through, yet I seem to be finding beauty and hope in the little things, the small victories and especially in all the wonderful people that surround me. I am learning to live life again, taking it day by day and enjoying the things that truly matter.