T-422 days-Cancer 101–9/21/12


10 years ago today I gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl. Never in my wildest dreams did I think my heart could be filled with so much love. I walked into my baby girl’s room who is now 10 this morning to wake up and sing happy birthday to her and I thought “what if I won’t be able to do this again?” My own mortality is hitting me square in the face at every turn. When your 38 you don’t think about dying….you just don’t. Until now…..

Gabriella had her first breakdown this morning. I know she is scared. I’m scared. I wish I could take away her fears but first need to work on mine. She was furious that I wouldn’t drive her to school before we went to the doctors. Normally I crumble with stuff like that, cave in and concede. Can’t anymore, egocentric mom is in the house now.

Travis and I drove to St. Joe’s. I reviewed my hundred questions for the doctor. My stomach feels like it is in an Olympics gymnastics meet. We pull up and the side of the building says Cancer Center. It doesn’t seem real. I don’t want to walk in there–I’m not ready to accept this hand I’ve been dealt. I breakdown. One of those cries where you cry so hard that you can’t breathe.

It’s time to take the first step. Hand in hand Travis and I walk in and I take my first step to acceptance when I enter that building. The next 2 hours was a revolving door of nurses, surgeon, oncologists, techs, volunteer from cancer society. Overwhelming, exhausting, surreal…over and over this is what I hear; “We are going to be very aggressive with you because of your age.”

This is what I learned:

I’m triple positive.
Staging me at 1 until further information
Prognosis in 90% that I will beat this.
Since I’m Her2 positive and my age will have 18 weeks of chemo
Want genetic testing done
Lumpectomy recommended pending genetic results
Radiation for 6 weeks after chemo is over

Then my Nurse Angel Karen walks in.  I have spent hours on the phone with her.  We are eerily the same person.  Both vegetarians, she was young when she had colorectal cancer and also engaged.   She gets it.  She has lived it.  Her just being in the room calms me tremendously.  She gives Travis and I an assignment; to take a $10.00 voucher, go outside, to the cafeteria get some food and DON’T TALK ABOUT CANCER.  Really?  I’ve just had a crash course of Cancer 101 and not we shouldn’t talk about it.??  But I knew she was right…..my brain needed a break–I was already exhausted and still needed to meet with the radiologist, get blood tests.  So that is exactly what we did.  And the day went on.  At least now I had answers and a plan.  The plan for the consummate planner.

This was not only a big day; Gabriella’s bday, Cancer 101; but also the day I had to tell my parents.  They were back from their trip.  I called them to tell them that Travis and I were going to come by.  They both seemed so excited to tell us about their trip. it just broke my heart that I was about to take them from this place of pure joy to devastation.  After being so emotionally exhausted from the days events I couldn’t handle my parent’s possible breakdown.  So Travis went first and broke the news so they could do that with him and then be more calm for me.  I felt weak that I couldn’t be the one but I just couldn’t.  I felt like a fragile piece of glass with numerous breaks and one more I would shatter into hundreds of pieces.

So then it was my turn; my parents were so sad, concerned, worried, upset.  Everything a parent would be.  I didn’t even cry–I think my tear well was all dried up.

After a very emotional day it was time to put on my wonder women costume again for Gabriella’s 10th birthday party.  Pretend like I just didn’t have one of worst days of my life, paste the smile on my face and keep my emotions in check.  Julie, expertly handled all of the details.  Although, I did manage to make her 10 year old birthday cake as I do for all of their birthdays.  I couldn’t let my cancer take that away from me–my birthday cake tradition.  I sang happy birthday to Gabriella with tears in my eyes.


5 responses »

  1. Hi Monica,
    Thank you for sharing your journey in such an open, honest, and vulnerable way…..
    I honestly believe that if there is anyone on this earth that can beat this unequivocally and completely, it is you. My first cousin was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer a few years ago…she was also under 40. She is now as healthy as she ever was, running 6 miles every single day, hiking, snowboarding, enjoying her family and friends. I know you will be back in fighting form and doing all the things you love very soon. You have so much support from all those who are fortunate enough to know and love you. I believe in the power of prayer, and will be keeping you in my prayers.


  2. Monica, I am so sorry to hear that your family is going through this! I know you are strong and if any can beat this you will! I am sending you every ounce of positive energy and prayer that I can!


  3. Monica, Laura just told me the news and I am so sorry. I know you will fight this thing, with authority, and come out stronger than ever before. Hang in there and my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Be as positive as you can and try to laugh because it does help. Kick this “C” thing in the ass!


  4. Monica, I know you will beat this thing….you have been such a healthy active person, super teacher and an awesome mom!! (Actually the mom part should have come first!) Our thoughts and prayers are with you while you travel safely on this wild adventure. The blog will be a wonderful way to keep in touch and express your thoughts and feelings…… I have forwarded it to Nikki as well. She sends her love…..Hugs.

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