A Breast Cancer Journey

I am Jennifer and I am one of the founders and owners of Growing Up Maury.  Next month is breast cancer awareness month and I wanted to share a little with you about breast cancer awareness month in my life.

For me this month has always meant pink Campbell soup labels, donating money to my friends who run for Susan G. Komen, the overly bright fuchsia towels NFL players use that clash with ALL of their uniforms and making sure that I have my mammogram scheduled.  This year breast cancer awareness month means something a little different to me because this year I have breast cancer.

Everyone’s diagnosis is different.  For me it was a slow process.  I had a mammogram and got the letter.  The letter that millions of women get and for 90% of them it means nothing.  The letter that says there is an abnormality in your mammogram and we need to do another test. Usually the other test shows that there was a shadow or a cyst or maybe dense tissue.  I immediately went back in for the next test.  AND THEY LOST IT.  For two weeks it was just gone.  I still have no idea where it is.  After I caused a “respectful” but “impassioned” scene I got an ultrasound and was told that we were probably looking at a carcinoma.  A biopsy confirmed this suspicion.  So I really did not have one of those moments where the floor dropped from under me.  My diagnosis was slow ramping up to, “I am sorry, Jennifer, you have breast cancer.”

 

That was at the end of June 2017.  Right now I am about 8 weeks into a 16 week treatment program.  Odds are this list will change often before next year but right now, in the middle of treatment, I want to tell you some of the things I have learned about having breast cancer.

 

  1. Listen to the stories of other women.  They have a lot to offer and are a great source of support but remember every person is different.
  2. Many things are not as bad as you thought they would be.
  3. Many things are worse than you thought they would be.
  4. People will try to sell you things that will cure your cancer.
  5. There are some wonderful things Eastern Medicine has to offer that can make this journey a lot easier.
  6. Children in the grocery story ask their parents why you do not have any hair.
  7. Worrying about how the people you love are feeling about your cancer is one of the most difficult parts of it.  
  8. Cancer repels people.
  9. Cancer draws people in.
  10. The possibility of losing my insurance takes my breath away.
  11. Some days you will feel good and then suddenly you won’t.  It is okay to rest and binge watch Netflix.  My personal binge go to comfort shows are the West Wing, Parenthood and Gilmore Girls, of course. 
  12. Cancer is not welcome HERE!!!!

I am really lucky.  I have great family, great friends, great support.  My business partners at Growing Up Maury are understanding and patient when I don’t feel great.  I have medical insurance and was accepted into a clinical trial.  And I can seriously rock a head scarf. 😜  This part of my journey is not as frightening or lonely as it could be, or often is for others.

The last thing I want to share is something I know will be true after I have finished this journey.  ALL and I mean ALL of the breast cancer awareness paraphernalia is pink.  I am a redhead (when I have hair).  When this is all over my awareness will be internal because I am not wearing pink.  Trust me, it is not pretty.  I cannot wait to write again when my chemo journey is complete and I am cancer free.  💕

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