I met Sarah through the Kick Ass Cancer Mamas group. Here is her story…
Tell us your story / stats:
I was 34 when I was diagnosed. I had a 7 year old son and had gotten married 9 months earlier. I had absolutely no reason to suspect I would have cancer. No family history, no extraordinary risk factors.
C aside, tell us about yourself. What makes you, YOU!
I am a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter and a friend. I take each of these roles very seriously. I spend the majority of my time fulfilling those roles, which means I go to a lot of football games, baseball games, basketball games, weddings… I love to go out on our boat, play with my kids, ride 4 wheelers and shoot clay pigeons. I love my slow, quiet Midwestern life.
What went through your head when you were first diagnosed?
“I don’t want to die. I can’t leave my son. I can’t leave my husband. There are so many things I still need to do. I don’t want to die.”
What are some of your personal coping skills during difficult times?
I cry. If I am happy, sad, scared, overwhelmed or anxious, I cry. Once I have a good cry, I am able to get through most things okay.
Tell us about your support system. Or lack of.
My husband has been my rock. He was with me through every treatment, every doctor’s appointment, every surgery… There’s no way I could have made it through everything without him. My extended family and my in-laws were also amazing, pitching in wherever they could to help make things easier.
Many people are unaware that you can do chemotherapy while pregnant. Thoughts and personal experience?
I had no idea you could have treatment while pregnant. When my OB/GYN told me it was possible, it was the greatest feeling of relief I’d ever had. I had 4 rounds of AC over 12 weeks. I lost my hair and was exhausted, but those are the only major side effects I experienced.
What have you learned about yourself since dx?
I have learned that I can make it through just about anything as long as I have a good enough reason to. I’ve dealt with my fair share of shit in my adult life. My oldest son has been my reason, and my husband and younger son became my other reasons.
What do you believe is a common misconception about being diagnosed? Or something that you’d like the general population to know about C.
I think the most common misconception is that cancer is “beaten” as soon as it’s gone. It takes a lot more than removing it to beat it. It is always there – in your dreams, in the back of your mind, in your fears…
Thoughts on the pink…
Before cancer, I was not a fan of pink. After cancer, I’m even less a fan of pink. If you’re asking about Susan G. Komen specifically, the organization makes me furious. They could do so much more good than they do, but they’re more concerned with making money. I encourage everyone to donate to metavivor.org, as that’s the only organization I know of that uses nearly all of their proceeds to fund research. Without new treatments, we will continue to lose incredible people to this hideous disease. I’ve lost too many, I’m afraid I will lose more.
Where are you at in life now? Mentally, physically, emotionally…
I am in a better place now than I have ever been. I have a decent job that allows me to provide for my family, I am surrounded by wonderful people and I am at peace.
Do you have any lasting side effects- mental, physical, etc.
I am one of the lucky ones. I haven’t had to deal with any of the lasting physical side effects that others have had. The biggest mental side effect is probably the nagging worry that cancer will come back. I’m not scared of it, but I do worry about what it will do to my family if it comes back.
Would you like to share one of your shittiest moments/memories? The raw side of C.
The constipation after taking odansetron for 5 days was horrible. I thought it was ripping me in two. You would never think the worst thing about cancer was poop. More specifically a lack thereof…
Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, phrase, or curse word?
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. It’s a quote from the TV series Friday Night Lights, but it has become my mantra. If you keep sight of the important things (clear eyes) and make love your priority (full hearts), you can do anything you need to do (can’t lose).