Today, October 10, 2021, is my 10-year Cancerversary from Stage 3a Her2Positive Breast Cancer. I remember diagnosis day like it was yesterday. Never did I think I would be here 10 years after that day! I am so grateful.
That day I did not know that I would only be able to take 3 months of the miracle drug Herceptin for Her2Positive Breast Cancer when you normally need to take 1 year. I did not know that I would have a heart attack from the chemo drug Adriamycin which is called the Red Devil. I did not know that for 9.5 of those 10 years I would be living with heart failure because of the damage done to my heart by those drugs. And also as a result of those drugs, I would need an internal ICD pacemaker/defibrillator just 6 months ago. I did not know that I would have Lymphedema for 8.5 of those 10 years and all the challenges that entails. And most importantly, I would have never believed that within 3 years of that date, my mom and my sister would also be diagnosed with breast cancer. My beloved mom, who was 80 at the time, was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. She died at age 85 from an unrelated issue. My sister and only sibling was diagnosed with Stage 3c breast cancer and she went through so much. We have been constant support for each other through these post cancer years.
Now the good news! The night of my diagnosis I had an extremely vivid dream that I remember in detail today. Standing in a depressing, dark room, suddenly the ceiling began to fall on me. Heavy plaster kept falling on my head. I thought it was going to kill me. But after the plaster fell, underneath that ceiling was the most beautiful art work – it looked like the other-worldly paintings of Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. When I awakened, I thought there must be good beyond the dark and depressing room I am in now, but I did not feel it.
Well, 10 years later there has been so much good! I would have never dreamed because of breast cancer I would have written a Blog that still gets thousands of visitors. Never would I have dreamed that I would have a created a business, http://www.hellocourage.com and http://www.hellocourage.etsy.com and meet cancer patients daily from all over the world. My goal has always been to bring comfort and hope to others, and through those venues, I am accomplishing my goal as well as making a living! I get notes from cancer patients weekly who tell me I have helped them in ways I could never imagine. Never a morning goes by that I don’t awaken and thank God I am still here and be grateful that so much good came out of bad.
And to those of you who are just starting the cancer marathon, there is hope! I write this in honor of my 49 year-old cousin, Anmarie, who is in the midst of breast cancer treatment. Never forget that hope even in the midst of your darkest hour. More good news is how far breast cancer treatment has come in those short 10 years. Because so many of us participated in clinical trials 10 or more years ago, many women diagnosed today do not need chemo, and if they do, very often they do not need Adriamycin that causes so much heart damage and is so difficult! There are breakthroughs being made all the time!
So celebrate with me! And many thanks to so many of you who supported me through the years! I could not have done it without you!