My Friend Emily R.

I met Emily through the Kick Ass Cancer Mamas Facebook group.  Here is her story…
Tell us your story / stats: 
I was diagnosed at age 32 and turned 33, 3 days later. Stage IIIa, 25 weeks pregnant. I had a lump for many years that was called a cyst. It would come and go with periods. When I was pregnant it got very hard and never went away. Then I small red streak appeared at the top of my breast. After trying some antibiotics for a clogged milk duct, I did the real tests to find out it was cancer.
C aside, tell us about yourself. What makes you, YOU!
I’m sarcastic, sometimes funny, I love fitness, I love the beach, I’m a PE teacher, wife and mother. I love dogs, hikes, acupuncture, yoga and to be around friends and family.
What went through your head when you were first diagnosed?
Honestly, just shock and fear, I think I cried every day for about two weeks. I saw death. But thank god, that hasn’t been the outcome for me, yet.
What are some of your personal coping skills during difficult times?
I write sometimes, I complain to my friends on Facebook, I go to acupuncture, I go to the gym.
Tell us about your support system. Or lack of. Where do you get your support from?
My husband is my rock, but I’m not big on verbalizing things until they are really bad. I could probably do better on that end. I wish my friends would reach out more and make more of an effort to spend time with me.
Many people are unaware that you can do chemotherapy while pregnant. Thoughts and personal experience?
I didn’t have too many weird situations when this came up, mostly people just asked if the baby was ok.
What have you learned about yourself since dx?
I cannot handle stress. Lol. I have learned that I’m not impervious to suffering and illness.
What do you believe is a common misconception about being diagnosed? Or something that you’d like the general population to know about C.
It’s not always a death sentence. But I wish people would support each other more. I had some great visits and people brought things to help us, but on the other hand you have close friends who never visited or anything. Just don’t get weird, be there!
Thoughts on the pink… 
I mean, I don’t feel a certain way, except it’s a club that I belong to. Not one that I want to belong to. I don’t wear pink every day, but my little pink ribbon tattoo reminds me of the shit I went through and what I was capable of. It’s not about who my money goes to.
Where are you at in life now?  Mentally, physically, emotionally…
At this exact moment I feel like crap. I stopped my meds that put me into menopause in hopes of having another baby. My hormones are so all over the place, I’ve been fighting this anxiety and panic attack feeling for about a week. But all together for a month on and off. When I feel good, I feel strong and healthy, but today I feel low and broken.
Do you have any lasting side effects- mental, physical, etc.?
I might. I’m still trying to see if my anxiety is from me or just the out of whack hormones. I may need to pursue some counseling in the future if this doesn’t improve.
Have you noticed any lasting effects on your families and friends?
I feel like sometimes that they have already forgotten. In some ways I never want to talk about it again, but other times I want to vent!
If you could send a message to yourself from 10 years ago… how would that go?
Change your diet, open your mind, push the doctors to do what you think, listen to your body.
What are you passionate about? Is this different than what you were passionate about before dx?
I’m more passionate about my personal relationships with people. I’m not good at them all the time but I’m trying.
Do you have any short term or long term goals that you are actively working towards?
I applied to a masters program, I’m hoping to be accepted into the next term! I want to teach at a community college.
Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, phrase, or curse word?
If I die today, it was the best day of my life. To me it just means, live today happy, make today the best day of your life, so if you died today, you died happy!
Whenever the day comes to travel to the “great beyond”, what do you hope people remember about you?
I hope they remember the good things about me. I hope they learn from me too.
Would you like to share one of your shittiest moments/memories? The raw side of C.
It’s crazy how much of a blur that 6 months was. I tried to get pregnant for so many years and cancer just robbed my happiness. It took the one joy in my life and made it totally different. Being pregnant and going through cancer treatment is just so weird and fucked up.
What’s the latest happenings in your life now?
I feel like I’m fully back into “normal” life. Work, wife, mommy…doing everything I did before. I feel very happy with where I am, now I keep wishing for more and more, like there’s a big future still ahead of me.
If people take away anything from your story, it would be…
You can come out of this crappy situation and find one thing to “learn” from it, you learn what you truly value. It will be ok, but have good supports set up, take care of yourself too, that’s important and be a nice person!

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