I was stunned with a stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis at age 37. I waited to have my lump checked, as my OBGYN advised, because I was pregnant. Our assumption was that it could not be cancer because I had no family history of breast cancer, I was young, and felt completely healthy.
By the time I was diagnosed in April 2011, the cancer had spread beyond my breast to 24 lymph nodes, two spots on my spine, and one on my pelvis. The doctors told me I was “incurable”.
I had four very young children, a husband who needed me, friends and family who loved me, and a strong desire to live for all of them. My prognosis was almost more than I could bear.
I am a lifelong runner, and I am also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints (a Mormon). My faith is what strengthened me the most, but an outpouring of love from friends and family, as well as some tenacity gained from years of competitive running, helped me wage a good battle against the cancer.
My husband and I sought out the best doctors and treatments, and after several months of chemotherapy, several surgeries, radiation, and lots of drugs, my cancer retreated, and I was in remission.
I needed so much help with my young family during my treatment, but I was surrounded by many people who were willing to step in and help our family during this stressful time.
I believe we are in this world together for a reason. We need each other. Extreme challenges often bring out the best in people, and I am forever changed by the love and thoughtfulness of those who prayed for me, took care of my children, brought meals, and visited me.
I enjoyed two years of remission, gradually regaining my strength. Running had such a positive impact on my psyche, and I did a few half marathons. Prayer, and trust in God, gave me peace in my heart.
After two years of remission, I had a recurrence of the cancer in my right iliac bone. This was disappointing, but not altogether surprising. I am taking some drugs which will fight the cancer without harsh side effects so that I can continue to feel well.
I am more thoughtful about how I spend my precious time each day. Teaching my children, and looking for opportunities to help others, brings me a lot of joy. Improving talents, such as playing the piano, and writing, have lifted me. I am currently training for a marathon. Enjoying my marriage and family is my top priority because I believe our family will be together after this life.
I will do positive, deliberate things with my time, no matter how long that is. I believe I will live a long time still, and I am optimistic and happy. Cancer cannot take that from me.