|I was diagnosed with invasive ductal and infiltrating lobular Her2+ breast cancer 3 years ago It was October of 2008, the month of my 45th birthday. With 4 kids finishing high school, and beginning college, and my husband and I facing our golden years together, this was NOT part of our game plan! From the day of my diagnosis, my doctors told me to plan on giving up one year of my life to cancer. 14 months later I finished that last Herceptin infusion and thought that I would be bidding farewell to cancer forever. Somehow that hasn’t happened like I had planned. The months that followed were filled with check ups, scans, aches and pains being investigated, blood counts being studied, new lumps being biopsied, cancer always in the back of my mind and on the front page of my day planner. Knowing that I had an aggressive cancer has thrown me into a state of constant fear, suspicion, worry and hypochondria. I was never like this before! I have had to learn to live in what some call “cautious optimism”, but honestly it is very hard to feel like cancer is fully behind me. I don’t dwell on it as intensely as I did a year or two ago, but it has become a part of me. I have to stare it down when I step out of the shower every morning. I can never just forget what has happened to me or what has changed me.
Throughout this whole experience I have been forced to re-evaluate what is truly important to me. I have re-examined my priorities and believe it or not, a clean house is no longer one of them! With my children now grown and independent, away at college and some working full time, my role as full time mom has shifted. I’ve thrown myself into a jewelry making hobby I enjoy and turned it into a full time boutique business venture that has become my passion and fills up my soul every day! It has allowed me an income that affords the little joys in life that I was never able to justify before. I also spend my spare time as a volunteer counselor for a national breast cancer organization, helping navigate newly diagnosed Her2+ breast cancer patients through their treatment. It is very rewarding to help a woman get from full on “terror” to a place where she is empowered and confident that she can win this battle. It makes me feel like my struggle was not in vain. It helps me remain positive because I must do so for her sake! It keeps me hopeful!