Cancer. The Uninvited Guest.
It’s almost as if someone shows up on your doorstep one day with their kids and family dog and says, ‘Hi!! I’m here! Thought I would pop in for awhile and make myself comfortable.” Before you know it, they have taken over your home. You have lost all control. Except breast cancer is much worse than that. It’s sneaky. It only announces itself once it’s already been settled in for awhile.
I was diagnosed last year April 2013 with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Wait. What? I am 50 years old! This is supposed to be the easy time of my life. The time when I get to start to relax a little. Let me back up a moment. I was first misdiagnosed and told I had fibrocystic breasts. I questioned the Doctor for months. But he was a Doctor. He knew better than I did.
A few months later I found another lump. The Doctor told me that cancer doesn’t grow that fast. Cancer doesn’t grow that fast. Can you imagine a Doctor telling a patient that. That’s when the red flag went up and I told him that he didn’t know what he was talking about. These are my breasts and I want to see a different Doctor. I demanded further testing.
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma of the left breast. Stage 2. Estrogen and progesterone positive. A total of 10 lumps were found. I was in a daze. I was told I would have to have a mastectomy. I was shocked that it had gotten this far out of control. I thought that if anything a lumpectomy. But a mastectomy? I wanted them both off. Right now. Get this cancer out of me. I don’t want to die! Just please, take them both. I don’t want to die. I have a 20 year old son who still lives at home. He’s unemployed. I can’t die until he becomes independent.
The double mastectomy was the easy part. I thought it would be devastating. I thought when I took my shirt off and looked in the mirror that I would be devastated. I wasn’t. “It’s only breasts after all,” I said to myself.
Women are so much more than a pair of breasts. We are just made to believe that breasts are what makes us sexy. We are made to believe that without our breasts we are not complete. But I was ok with it. I was alive. Maybe I was in shock. Who knows.
Chemotherapy was when the reality of the situation hit me. Hello! The ball’s over Cinderella! My hair fell out. Two teeth fell out. I remember going to the Oncologist’s office frantic. My teeth! I can’t live like this. This is no life! I refuse to walk around with no teeth! Please no more. You are killing me.
I was always dehydrated. The chemo sucked the life out of me. I would wake up the morning after a treatment, look in the mirror and see a shriveled up old lady looking back at me. So this is what I will look like when I am 80.
I suppose I used to hide behind my long blonde hair and breasts. Oh yes. I was something. Sexy. Fit. Tan. Now all of the sudden all of that was all stripped away. Cancer said, “I am stripping away everything you hide behind. Everything. Its up to you now Robin. Are you going to cave or are you going to fight? Show me who you really are. Show me the person inside.”
And I did. I fought. I made myself workout on my good days. I went to the park and walked. Then I would run. And everyday I got stronger. I would push myself harder. Pushups. Pullups. Work those muscles. Don’t break down. The Doctors were my biggest fans. They told me I was an inspiration.
I felt so bad for the women who had it worse than me. I would look at them sitting in the chemo room and my heart would break. I felt like I had no right to ever complain about these nasty treatments.
On the days that chemo attacked me full force, I had no choice but t let it. I laid on the couch and let it run its course. It was the same cycle every time. The bone pain would sneak up on me and I would crawl into bed begging God to take me. I would curl up in the fetal position and cry. Beg God to make the pain stop. Vow that I was not having anymore chemo treatments. That’s it! I’m done! It’s killing me. I feel it. The pain would eventually subside just enough so I could fall asleep.
After a few days of that nonsense, I would get mad. Now it’s my move. Like a game of chess. I dragged myself off the couch or out of my bed and continued the fight. That’s it! I can’t take this anymore! And off I would go. To the park. You can do this Robin. Look at the sky. The trees. Breathe in the fresh air. Move. Walk. Run. Scream. But don’t give up.
And so it went. My last chemo was September 2013. As I suspected it was the worst. They always got worse each time. I laid in bed for three weeks in pain. I could barely walk. I thought my legs would snap in half. But I let it take its toll. I knew that it would subside and I would get my life back. My health. I just wanted my health.
I really feel that fitness saved my life. At least the Doctors say its one of the reasons why I bounced back quicker than most. People always ask me how I was able to workout through it all. The answer is simple. You just can’t ever give up.
You know what is so wonderfully crazy about this? Having gone through this has also been a blessing.
My priorities have changed. I think I am a better person because of my battle. Things that used to bother me just have no importance anymore.
I don’t take life for granted anymore. Life! What a gift! I love it. I want to live it and then live it some more.
Even a blade of grass has meaning to me now. Every person that has come into my life has been amazing and positive.
I attract a different kind of person in my life now. People who are genuine. Just good people. I can’t explain it any other way.
My hair is coming back thicker and healthier. I think that this is a gift given to all of us for the hell we went through. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The caterpillar becoming a butterfly.
I love the person I have become. Or maybe I should say that I love the person that I have always been but never really appreciated.
A strong willed and funny woman. A fighter. A warrior.
Cancer came to my door one day and challenged me to a battle and something wonderful happened…I won.