With every Breast Cancer diagnosis, these simple words are what every single Breast Cancer fighter hopes to hear at their end of their fight.
Between chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and hormonal treatments, the targeted approach to kill the existing cancer while preventing a reoccurrence takes a serious toll on the body, both physically and mentally. For me, the term Cancer had become a household name, after my father’s diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer in 2015.
We did everything we could to help my parents during this very trying time, and no one can ever prepare you to lose a parent at the age of 36 years old. To watch first hand as your dad wastes away, not from the cancer but instead from the side effects of the Parkinson’s Disease he had been diagnosed with years earlier.
When my father finally passed in October of 2015, we thought we were done with the “C” word and tried to resume a normal life after being surrounded by death and illness. I tried my best to re-focus on my responsibilities at work, but it was a daily struggle, as a plethora of symptoms had become my constant companion.
I blamed it on all the stress we had been under while dealing with my dad’s illness, including the lump that had appeared in my breast during my dads last few months on this earth. A year later, and I finally decided to seek the assistance of a Naturopath to hopefully figure out what was wrong with me once and for all, and finally put me on my path to health.
Needless to say, I soon found myself faced with that hated word yet again, Cancer, except this time instead of dealing with someone else, I found myself faced with a very serious battle for my life. I was diagnosed in September of 2016, at the age of 37 with Stage 3A Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I was too young to let Cancer take me, and after everything our family had been through a year prior, I had to fight the tough fight that my dad was unable to.
Today I had my 3-month followup with my Oncologist since finishing my last round of Chemo. My reconstruction surgery was approximately a month ago, and I was finally able to kiss the port good-by. I thought I was finally on the path to regaining a normal life, whatever that may be, but instead, I found myself leaving the doctors office with both good and bad news.
The good was a pink folder documenting everything I had been through in the past year. My diagnosis, treatments and important informational resources which is the Oncology way of classifying you as a Breast Cancer Survivor. Of course, the bad news came when the discussion came to medications needed to keep the Cancer from reoccurring.
You see, my cancer was Estrogen positive, so in order to have the best shot at killing the cancer, you need to starve it, which meant throwing me into early Menopause with a monthly shot. Every four weeks I need to make a trip to my Oncologist to get a shot in the gut, literally, with an extended-release capsule that disables my estrogen production. I am also on Tamoxifen to target the estrogen created by other parts of the body, like belly fat.
So being someone that hates taking any type of medication, I was not thrilled with my current situation, but thought I would only need to be on the Tamoxifen for 5 years, and I could discontinue the Zoldadex after having a Hysterectomy. Well in a very short amount of time my hopes of being medication free were shattered. The 5 years I had sworn my doctor told me at my last meeting with her suddenly turned into 10 years.
Sure I understand they want to make sure there are no reoccurrences of Cancer, but in my head, I can’t help but wonder about the negative side effects of being on any medication for that long. She then advised me that it may be best to switch me from the Tamoxifen to a new medication called Aromasin. Evidently this pill works better at blocking Estrogen, but of course comes with its own side effects, like bone loss, which of course there is another shot to help counteract that, which I would need for two years. Then to make matters even worse, she told me that the hormonal therapies could also make my brain fog, and difficulty with concentrating worse.
I honestly felt like I had been punched in the gut. One minute I feel like I am finally working towards normalcy, only to find out that it has been all the medications I am on that has put me on what feels like an endless roller coaster each and every month. I go from barely being able to think straight or focus for about two weeks after my shot, which I got today, to approximately two weeks of somewhat normal functionality, only to start the cycle all over again.
I left my appointment with a mix of emotions. Sure I’m supposed to be happy that I am a survivor of a disease that has taken women younger than myself. Yes, at my office alone, they just lost a patient this week to this horrible disease, but I can’t help but be a bit self-centered as I still wonder what my new normal will be. Will I ever be able to work again? And if so doing what? I may be a survivor, but I will always have Cancer in my body, it just may be dormant, and I prefer to keep it that way cause I don’t want to fall down this rabbit hole yet again.
With Cancer, there are always good days and there are bad days. I need to remember to not let the bad days consume me, and instead focus on improving my health, and my morning Isagenix shakes are a step in that direction. I have felt noticeably better in the few months I have been using the products, and I have to remember that wellness is not a sprint, its a marathon, and each day is a little bit better than the last. I need to focus on healing my body and my mind, instead of focusing on things that I cannot control. In a year from now, I hope to be a healthier, happier and slimmer version of myself, who has kicked Cancer’s butt, and with the help of Isagenix, I know I can get there!