I met Rebecca through the Kick Ass Cancer Mamas Facebook group. Here is her story…
Tell us your story /stats:
I was diagnosed at the age of 38. I was 8 months pregnant with my first child, at the time. I happened to feel the 9mm lump in the underarm area on my right side and had my OB check it at my regularly scheduled appointment the following week. From there, I went to the breast health center for a day of checks that included a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy, and was diagnosed with Stage 1 Triple Positive cancer a few days later. Because the cancer was so small but also triple positive, they gave me the option regarding chemo and radiation. I decided to hit it with everything. My thought was that if I did everything possible to combat the cancer and it came back, at least I would know that I did all I could. But if I chose not to do chemo and radiation, and the cancer returned, I know that I would never forgive myself for not doing more.
C aside, tell us about yourself. What makes you, YOU!
What makes me, me…I think if I had to narrow myself down to a few sentences, I would say that my openness, my empathy and love for others, and my thoughtfulness, are my most defining characteristics.
What went through your head when you were first diagnosed?
“How can I have cancer? I take such good care of myself. How could my body betray me in this way?” I really just couldn’t believe it. I was definitely in shock.
What are some of your personal coping skills during difficult times?
I think I cope with difficult times by staying busy, and by using humor to make light of situations. Pot helps too. And yoga and running.
What have you learned about yourself since dx?
I have learned that I am more comfortable when I can manage some sort of control in any given situation. I’ve also learned how to let go of control and how to have a certain level of comfort when I am not in control. I also have learned how much strength there is in allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Opening up about how you feel and what you’re going through takes a great deal of strength.
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 that many people, myself included, experience a great deal of shock and trauma upon diagnosis. It’s so hard to believe that this has happened to you. I think it’s important for people to know that it can always happen and also to know that the treatment is only a piece of the experience. Cancer diagnosis is a life-long struggle and the fears and emotions that go along with it are complicated and eternal. There are also many physical side effects that accompany the post-cancer treatment.
If you could send a message to yourself from 10 years ago… how would that go?
Stop eating so many carbs, and try to lose the stress. Eat more vegetables, cook more whole foods. Get sleep. Don’t open a restaurant. Also, make the most of the great times in your life. Try harder to enjoy those moments and to be fully present (still a struggle).
What are you passionate about? Is this different than what you were passionate about before dx?
I think that the biggest impact that my dx had on me is my commitment to healthy eating and my adoption of a vegan diet. This has also impacted my family and my daughter has been raised vegan so far as well. I am very passionate about food, healthy food in particular. I have also subsequently learned a great deal about the food industry and have made a commitment to contributing to our ecosystem in a more positive manner.
Whenever the day comes to travel to the “great beyond”, what do you hope people remember about you?
I hope that people remember me for being brave, kind, and loving.
Would you like to share one of your shittiest moments/memories? The raw side of C.
I think that the hardest part for me is that the first couple years of my daughter’s life are a bit blurry. I’m sure that some of that is transcendent across all new mothers but I attribute much of it to the chemo and the shock of my coinciding diagnosis. I wish I could go back and have that time with her, and be able to focus all of my energy on being a mother of a newborn. But I will never get that time back and that’s something that I always carry with me.