Be still and smile. Everywhere we look people are going about their business and really we have no idea what they are doing. Some are having lunch with friends, others are contemplating a career change, others are nervous about a pregnancy test result or a big move to a new city. And some are processing the diagnosis of cancer. That was me, the last one. And although I've been through the rest of these moments, my diagnosis has clearly been a life changing event. I love writing and wanted to chronicle my journey and felt, what better way than in a blog.
Everything changed the moment I had my second daughter. It was a beautiful pregnancy and an incredibly empowering unmedicated birth. I was high on life. We were building our family and now had two gorgeous girls. They always say, kids have a sixth sense. But I really don't think adults pay enough attention to the beautiful children surrounding us and this extra gift they possess. After receiving the news I did, about potentially having breast cancer, I started analyzing every single bit of the previous year…because that is when things changed. Everyone tells you to pay attention, to perform the self-exam in the shower, and I did, but never noticed any differences.
When I had Henley 12 months ago, my right boob immediately started acting strange. But I always thought it was functioning weird due to birth and breastfeeding. NEVER did I think that I would have anything wrong with me. I was purely focused on my new baby. And I thought we worked our way through the issue.Then a few months ago things got strange again. But I was so caught up in my mom life that I just didn’t give myself the proper self-care that I probably needed to. I texted my OB (yes I have that awesome of a relationship with her) and she said I needed to schedule an appointment. I went in pretty quickly, but then they wanted an ultrasound done. Well, don’t they know I am a busy mom? So I put the order under a stack of books and put it off. DON’T DO THIS. Then one day I am looking in the mirror and notice my right armpit is swollen more than my left and sort of tender. Same side as the slacker, weirdo boob. So now I panic a bit and finally schedule my appointment. This was two weeks ago today. I go in and get an ultrasound done. Radiologist comes in to speak to me and says, "It just doesn't look kosher," and wants a mammogram done immediately. She looks at scans and wants more pictures taken and close ups. Finally I speak to the breast specialist and she tells me that I have micro-calcifications and it could lead to DCIS (ductal carcinoma) and I also have a strange mass directly under my nipple. Which I always assumed was a clogged milk duct (NEVER assume… makes an ASS out of YOU and ME…my mom always taught me that and here I am not listening to her wisdom), so they want biopsies done. They send all my scans to my OB.
Mom and I take the girls to Waterloo Icehouse for lunch because there is a playground for Halen to run and play on. It was an overcast, windy day…felt really nice outside. After those scans I remember thinking, I am going to order a really yummy lunch because…life is short. I ordered the guacamole-bacon-swiss-chicken sandwich…it was delicious. But ¾ the way through lunch my doctor calls. I step away for the call. Immediately she tells me it doesn't look good, what I love about her is she doesn’t beat around the bush…she gives it to me straight. I said, “What do you mean?” And she responds with, I think there is a pretty good chance this is malignant. I needed more clarification, so I asked what that meant, that I might have breast cancer? She said, “Yes Lauren.” And I lost it, all I could think about is I can’t leave my girls…tears streaming down my face. She continued to say she can’t 100% diagnose without biopsies done, but it was urgent I get them done as soon as possible. She sent my information to a breast surgeon and we hung up the phone. Without another breath, I called Evan and told him verbatim what the doctor said and he immediately left work to be near me. I then stepped into a haze. I got back to the table and suddenly lost my appetite. I told my mom what the doctor said and Evan was on his way home. I had trouble moving my legs, like I was in slow motion. Like time stood still for me to sink in what could be my new reality. I felt so heavy and unresponsive. My mom acted in a flurry and got the girls into the car, paid our lunch bill and started to drive us home as I picked up the phone to call Dana with my news, she says, “It will be okay because, it has to be okay.” I found solace in that, she was right it HAS to be okay. For my girls, I HAVE to be okay.
We raced home and my sweet hubby was sitting outside waiting for us. He had tears in his eyes and greeted me like I had been gone on a long trip. He held me close. We shuffled the girls inside and put them both down for their naps and went outside on the porch to talk. My thoughts continue to jump around and Evan finally says that he thinks maybe Henley has been trying to tell me that something was wrong with my boob. And I think, maybe I should have paid more attention, for the better part of a year she has disliked that side. I always thought it was because I didn’t produce enough milk in that one or because my nipple started to cave in… again never thought anything of that either, even though I have never had that done before. I figured since I was in the phase of nursing that surely had everything to do with it.
It is hard to process. I’m 32 years old, the last thing I thought of is this happening to me. I thought I was doing everything right… I eat healthy, I drink healthy, I breastfed my babies, I have been removing bad toxins from my home. Then it makes you think about how you’ve lived…have I been nice enough, did I do enough. Then it’s strange living life. Do you do things differently now? Or just fall into the same routine while this giant black cloud hangs over your head. My biopsy was scheduled for Monday at 11:15. That seemed like the longest next week of my life. And all I really wanted to do was to jump on a plane to Bora Bora with my hubby and babies. Life... as soon as you feel like you’re on the upswing and all is peachy keen, you get thrown a messy, sloppy piece of trash to pick up. My bestie sent me this verse and I really love it… Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
This photo of our family was taken at Henley's dedication, 10 days before my cancer diagnosis.