At the age of twenty-seven with a brand-new baby and feeling as if my life was falling into place, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that was damaging my organs. I had a very difficult pregnancy and labor and the Lupus diagnosis answered many questions we had about why. Part of the course of treatment that was suggested was a breast reduction to reduce my rather large tatas, which would reduce some of my pain and discomfort. Near my daughter’s first birthday I scheduled my appointment. I attended my appointment alone, my husband Dave was working and I didn’t feel I needed spousal support for a reduction consultation. The appointment began with a physical examination of the breasts. The appointment then progressed to a mammogram without explanation as to why. The doctor was calm, cool and collected, but I knew something was up. I was instructed to wait in the reception area for the results of my mammogram. I was then instructed that I would be having an ultrasound. At this point, my suspicion was definitely raised, “Was this normal for a reduction consultation?”. The tech wouldn’t answer my questions, only informing me that the doctor would be in to discuss everything. At one point, the tech excused herself and returned with two doctors. The doctors stood in the room chatting to each other, but not to me. A nurse entered the room, told the doctors “We can do it today” and at that point, I knew this was definitely not routine. I was informed that they had seen something that was cause for concern and that they could biopsy it that day. The biopsy was done and I went home to await the results which could take up to three days.
The whole way home I questioned whether are not I should tell my family. Why should I get them concerned over what could be nothing? How does this happen to a twenty-seven year old? It was supposed to be a reduction consultation! I decided to wait until the biopsy results came back before I told anyone anything. That night I did my best to live life as normal, but I couldn’t stop the endless stream of thoughts and concern. “What would happen to Mackenzie, my beautiful baby girl?” “What would Dave, my amazing husband, do without me to organize and plan everything?” “How could this be happening to me, with no family history of Breast Cancer?” Dave was working late and I wasn’t sure how I would hide my fear from him when he got home. I was getting Mackenzie ready for bed and the phone rang. I was surprised to see it was the doctor’s office and my heart sank. I picked up the receiver, said hello and after a small amount of small talk received the news I was not ready to hear: “You have breast cancer.”
Terrified in the aftermath of the diagnosis bomb, the question I pondered was not how long I would live, but rather how I would live.
Within a year of my initial diagnosis, after a partial mastectomy and my first round of chemotherapy (16 weeks) I was diagnosed with triple negative, BRCA1 positive Breast Cancer which had become metastatic. Thanks to the chemotherapy and the Lupus, one of my kidneys was damaged so badly that I was no longer a candidate for the full mastectomy and hysterectomy surgery that I needed. Thirteen years later, after over 150 rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, various alternative methods and numerous oncologists scratching their head at my case, I continue to fight, living each day to the fullest.
I have taken my thirteen year fight with cancer and turned it into an opportunity to help others overcome adversity and live their most fabulous life. Established in 2015, Fabulously Fighting LLC, has provided daily inspiration and education on a variety of topics related to health and wellness via the website (fabulouslyfighting.com) and social media (Twitter, Instagram). Fabulously Fighting strives to be a point of reference and inspiration for those facing adversity, offering insight as to how you can continue to put one foot in front of the other and live a full life. The blog and website ultimately led to the 2016 release of the award winning book, Fabulously Fighting: Living with cancer through love, laughter and honesty. In late 2017, I established Born of Fire Publishing, INC, and earlier this year, we released the second edition of Fabulously Fighting: Living with cancer through love, laughter and honesty under the Born of Fire label. I am now working on bringing my experience as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and vegan and raw food advocate to the forefront with the upcoming release of my cookbook Fab’s Vegan Eats. At Fabulously Fighting our goal is to make you feel like a part of our family and welcome you into our community of fabulous fighters. We hope to provide some inspiration to those facing adversity, to rise above and maintain perspective on the things that really matter in life: love, laughter and honesty.