I don’t think you can ever be prepared to hear the words “You Have Cancer”. We hear the word “cancer” daily, but you just hope it is not used when talking about your health. I heard these words on April 29th. In a way I wasn’t really surprised. My mom had primary peritoneal cancer, my aunties on both sides also had breast cancer. They are all still alive thankfully, but I had a feeling I was not going to be able to avoid it. After getting the initial diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma, I was called in for more testing. MRI’s, PET scan and more biopsies. They wanted to check my brain and liver. Then I got the call to come in to go over the liver test results. I knew, from that phone call, what they were going to say. I knew they were going to tell me it was in my liver. I just knew it. I figured they would do surgery, chemo and call it a day. That is not what happened.
I knew I wanted to go by myself to hear the news. For me, that felt best. I didn’t want to have to manage how someone else took the news. I wanted to be able to process on my own first. My oncologist, Dr. Jeske is sweet and has a great bedside manner. To hear the words coming from her mouth felt so out of place, for she is so happy and optimistic. The words she spoke were the opposite of that. She let me know that there was cancer in my liver and that I had metastatic breast cancer. She explained that it has no cure and I will need treatment my whole life. She explained the average patient lives two years, and some live decades. I asked question after question and she answered them all in very precise and truthful ways. I was having a hard time knowing what to feel. I wanted to make jokes, and yet, I knew for my own sake, I shouldn’t.
“Incurable.” “Cancer will take your life.” These are not the words I was ready to hear, and there they were, ringing through my ears. My heart was beating, my mouth was moving and asking questions, my brain was trying to take it all in, (thankfully I recorded the conversation, based on many people’s recommendation) and my body was just numb. I kept thinking two years? That is definitely not enough time for the things I want/need to do. I just kept thinking, that’s not me…no way. I am certainly going to live more than 2 years. Yep, I’m looking at decades. I’m ready to do everything I can to beat the odds. I plan on living a long life.
I had a really rough time Friday night and Saturday. I felt really lost and so overwhelmed, trying to process my new state of being. I couldn’t shake it. It was around me like a bubble. A huge, dark, scary bubble. Just me and my mortality in this bubble. It’s weird, but by Sunday I started to feel like myself again. I told myself nothing has really changed. I have cancer and need to fight it-like a baller. And that is my plan. I am not going to worry and get caught up in thinking about the future. I am mindful and I am trying my best to focus on the present. This moment. Right now. I am focussing all of my energy on how blessed I am to have such an amazing support system, including my family, friends, FB friends, fellow photographers, clients and random friends I meet daily. I live in SF, one of the best places to get sick. There are so many resources here. I have amazing insurance, thanks to Anthony’s union job. I have spent the past few years really getting to know myself. I have just recently made some realizations about myself and my happiness, and how to make sure I put me first. I can’t imagine how I would get through this without all of the lessons I have learned through my life. I truly feel like I couldn’t be better prepared to fight this cancer than I am right now. I know it might sound strange to hear that, but I feel it in my bones.
Moving forward: Dr. Jeske, is setting me up to get some other opinions via Stanford and UCSF. She says there are many different treatment routes, and I have a few weeks to decide which plan I feel best about. This cancer is very different than regular breast cancer. The treatment approach is more conservative. We do know it is estrogen fed so that gives us a good place to start. Blocking estrogen. It’s for the long haul. My oncologist loves adding in acupuncture, cannabis, massage and herbs to any treatment plan. I immediately stopped drinking alcohol, eating sugar and processed foods. I will keep looking into the best anti-cancer diet, for my diagnosis. I will keep exercising. I am also meditating again. I have started visualizing the cancer shriveling up and leaving my body. I feel my guardian angels all around me daily. I am also already using Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO) to start shrinking the tumors as well.
One thing I know for sure, is this cancer not only affects me, but it affects everyone in my life. Near and far. I have been on the other side. I’ve watched friends and family suffer from cancer. I have seen family and friends lose the fight. I felt helpless and deflated. I know this news will be hard to hear and process. Know that I am ok. Know that I am going to fight. Know that I will have really fucking hard days and know that I will have fucking amazing days. Know that I feel your love and support and that I believe in the power of prayer, even though I don’t affiliate with any religion. If you believe and pray for my cancer to stop growing and start shrinking, I believe it will.
Please trust in me that I will reach out and I will need help. I will do my best to respond to emails, texts, messages and FB posts, but it may take awhile. And if I don’t, know I appreciated your gesture. It really means the world to me to have such amazing friends and family.
I encourage you to read this article about metastatic breast cancer. I found it very helpful to understand how it is different than breast cancer. My friends and family understanding it, will help me out.