...1 year later

It has been a year since I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer, and holy hell what a year it’s been. It feels like time has flown by, but all the same has crawled past slower than a 100 year old tortoise named Kitty, going for a grape.
The seemingly speed up of time was caused by my crazy-packed schedule : hospital checkups, chemo treatments, radiation, hydration appointments, blood draws, MRI’s, surgery, support groups, ER trips, and the list goes on. The feeling that time was standing still was because of the nausea, loneliness, and heart break I experienced while trying to fight this cruel disease.
As I reflect on the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I’d lost and the things I’ve gained. I lost all my hair, my boobs, some weight, my period, a few friendships, 2 big toenails, my sense of taste, the feeling in my fingers and much more….
I gained some incredible friends and support, a new outlook on life, a better understanding of my body and a big poofy afro that I refuse to take scissors to (and along with that, I should include that I’ve also gained about 10 different jars of hair gel).
I want to talk about the heart break and loss of friendship I faced while being sick because I think it’s a very real and important thing that happens, and not a lot of people talk about. When I was first diagnosed, pretty much every single person I’ve ever known reached out to me, whether it was through social media, hand written notes, phone calls or texts, and it felt incredible – I felt like it was my birthday! I was energized and excited about the support I was receiving from so many special people, and looked to my upcoming treatment with my head up and a brave attitude. As time went on, the initial shock of my diagnoses wore off, and I slowly stopped hearing from friends and certain family members. I can’t blame anyone for this, because everyone deals with sickness differently. I always thought to myself that if I had a friend that was going through this instead of me, I would have NO idea what to do or how to support him/her.
I was talking with my BFF, Amanda S. the other day, and she informed me that I was quite the “stubborn b*tch” while going through chemo and I am so grateful she told me that, because I had kind of felt a little abandoned by my friends. It felt so good to be honest with each other about what happened and how we both felt. She told me that she wanted to be there for me, but didn’t know how, and my unresponsiveness to texts and calls left her in the dark, and also feeling like she didn’t want to bother me, when in fact, I was at home, in bed, wishing that someone would come hold my hand and lay with me. I WAS being so stubborn! I didn’t want to ask anyone for anything because I didn’t want to be a “burden”, which is INSANE. I also didn’t want anyone to see me at my most vulnerable, most bald, most throw-upy state….
Now, with a clear head, I know that I should have asked for help because Amanda S., along with many of my other friends, would have been by my side in 2 seconds flat, and my quality of life would have been so much better. It’s hard for most people to ask for help, especially when you’re young and experiencing something that only 1 in 2,000 women will experience at the age of 28. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, asking for help is hard, but necessary!

Now for the heart break bit….
Post treatment life is hard - I will not lie about that. I’m a 29 year old woman, experiencing full blown menopause with the poofiest hairdo you’ve ever seen. My medication causes hot flashes, depression, and an overall feeling of “what the hell, this is not my body”. I had a boyfriend while I was going through cancer treatment, and while we still have a lot of love for each other, a couple of weeks ago, we decided it would be best to go our separate ways. I’m not sure exactly what happened to us, but I do know that this kind of traumatic experience in life can make or break a relationship. Trying to figure out post-cancer life is difficult, and losing the person that was right there through the whole thing is very rough, to put it lightly. Break ups are break ups, but this….this is something else. Together, we experienced things that some people will never have to experience ever, and we did it at age 27,28,29. I must say, I am proud of how we handled the situation together but it’s now time for he and I to venture out, separately, to find our happiness as independent people, and let go of the hurt, anger, frustration, annoyances and stress that we both felt over this last year. I have to thank him for the love and support he provided to me while I was at my worst, and keeping me distracted from the horrible pain that is cancer. Helping my dad and sister figure out my insurance situation, calling the docs when I thought I was dying, keeping my friends informed, watching hours of Netflix with me, feeding me ice cream, making me laugh until I couldn't breathe, and shaving my head. These are all memories I hold close and will cherish for the rest of my life. Thank you to my sweet Tom, you have a piece of my heart forever.
So there you go, ladies and gents. It’s been a year, and what a freakin’ year it’s been. I can’t say I’m in remission yet, but I am looking forward to the day when I can. In the mean-time, I am eating healthy (besides the occasional Taco Bell here and there), laughing as much as possible, attending some incredible support groups and sharing my experiences with others who have been diagnosed with the C word. Life is good and I am happy. I wish the same for all of you <3