I have spent the last 48 hours contemplating what to write in my first blog. Do I include a little about who I am? Do I explain my cancer journey thus far? Do I jump right in to a topic like being positive or what it feels like to be referred to as an 'inspiration'? Well, I think I will do a little bit of everything.
I was that kid that did everything 'right'. 99% of the time, where I told my parents I was going to be was actually where I was. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well academically and in doing so I successfully earned three degrees. My life was on track and being in my 20s, I was excited about marriage, babies, and a new career however, cancer had other things planned for me.
I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. I had a mastectomy 17 days after hearing the diagnosis. I had the choice of a lumpectomy but the tumour was the size of a golf ball so the deformation would have been severe and the odds of the cancer coming back with a lumpectomy was 10-20% versus 5-10% with a mastectomy. I was lucky enough to have an implant (well, an expander to be exact) inserted at the time of my mastectomy. I had a reduction on my other side as well. My boyfriend jokes that he is lucky enough to have 2 sets of boobs while being with one woman.
Since I found out I had cancer 3 months ago, my focus has changed from having a baby in the next 2-3 years to being able to have a baby at all. During the cyclophosphamide part of my chemo cocktail, I give my ovaries a bit of a pep-talk to ward off as many harmful chemicals as possible. Here's hoping it works. And as for marriage, I was actually not planning on getting married any time soon (I've been with the same wonderful man for 5 years) but since my diagnosis, marriage has become very important to me. I heard the saying, 'we make plans and God laughs' the other day and it has never felt more applicable.
I shaved my head on Sunday. I wanted to have some control over losing my hair so after donating as much as I could (about 12 inches) and sporting a short style for a few weeks, I decided to shave it to avoid it coming out in clumps. I wasn't sure how I was going to react but I loved it. I mean, yes, I wish I had hair but I've always wondered what it would be like to have a shaved head and now I know. Once I stood up to look in the mirror, my boyfriend couldn't get me back in the chair to do final touches because I was too busy walking around the kitchen letting the air graze through my scalp. I actually had to wear a hat to bed that night because I was a little too cool.
My friends and family have been unbelievably supportive and I owe a lot of my strength and courage to them. Not a day goes by where I don't receive a card, a text, a fb message, or a phone call from someone asking about how I'm feeling and if they can do anything. Soon after I was diagnosed, my friends entered a team in the Relay for Life in my honour and appropriately called it 'Team Katie.' It is this weekend. They have raised almost $7000 and my mom has raised over $1500 of that $7000. I am so proud of them. I have been surrounded by so much support that it's hard for me not to stay positive. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone and walking the victory lap at the start of the event.
Thank you to everyone who has read this first blog. I'm really excited about this experience and plan to use this tool to both be inspired and doing a little inspiring myself.