Surgery for breast cancer is a huge decision. I thought long and hard before knowing what surgery was right for me. Removing my entire breast seemed to be very extreme and a very extensive painful surgery. After being informed that the risk of cancer reoccurrence was the same percentage from a mastectomy versus having a partial lumpectomy, I decided to take the short route. I opted to get the lumpectomy, it was 2 hours long and I was out of the hospital the same day. The surgeon went in and took out the remaining tumor and carved out around it. I also had my axel opened and carved out since I was stage 2 cancer and the cancer had began to spread. I had a fast recovery and overall I am very happy with my decision. 3 weeks after my surgery I began radiation treatment, compared to chemo this truly was a breeze. I had treatments for 7 1/2 weeks, 5 days a week. My skin got very dark and peeled off; due to rubbing motion, a blister was formed on my axel. I didn't have too much pain, aloe vera was my best friend through it all. I definitely believe everything after chemo is so much easier to face. Knowing it was the end of my cancer journey, I embraced and looked forward to every one of my radiation sessions.
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Depression is a word that should not be taken lightly, depression during cancer can be even more dangerous. I was never informed depression was a side effect to chemotherapy, I wasn't informed of many things actually. This hit me hard.
Let me back track, I was 4 months into chemo treatment and besides the obvious side effects, everything seemed to be going as planned. It was a Sunday, and I felt pretty confident to go out that day; something I wouldn't do very often due to weakness and nausea. My husband I went to church and after we went out to buy a new pillow to help me sleep better. My parents would call me everyday to make sure I was doing ok. Sure enough I received a call from mom. She was very short with small talk and quickly said "you're dad had an accident, he's in the hospital."
My world fell apart, I couldn't comprehend what had happened. I asked "how? What happened?" And I wasn't getting a clear answer. We rushed over to the hospital, it felt like years had passed by the time we got there. My dad is a man of faith, he was the one encouraging me and telling me I was going to beat cancer. To see him laying in a hospital bed, it was heart wrenching. He was always 100% there with me for every doctors appointment I had. He knew I had chemo the next day, and he seemed to be more concerned about who would be going with me than his own health state.
The doctors said they found a tumor on his brain and they didn't know if it was cancer. The only way they would know was by removing it with brain surgery. Surgery itself is intense, but brain surgery?! God always has the upper hand in every situation. Doctors said it would take months for my dad to recover and learn his motor skills again; talking, walking, doing things on his own. I'd like to testify my dad walked out of that hospital, talking and walking; the doctors were shocked.
Before my dads accident happened, he would spend time with me in my apartment. He would bring me flowers, food, and always a smile to my face. After his accident. I would be home alone and that's when depression hit me. I would cry everyday, all day long. I would wake up crying and go to bed crying. I felt as though my dad had passed away, I was mourning him. I felt like I was in this black hole, full of sadness and pain. As much as I would try to feel better, I couldn't.
Finally one day I had a wake up call by my husband. I was told my dad was alive! Instead of being sad and crying over him I should be celebrating and spending time with him. That's exactly what I did, from that day on I went over and hung out with him for weeks.
Regardless of the situation, I believe surrounding yourself with loved ones while being depressed is the key. I know my family forced me to go out, talk, and they distracted me. Although I wasn't in the mood, in the end they did make me very happy and ultimately got me out of that funk. Once I changed my perspective on life, I began to feel more like myself. One day I realized, I can feel again.....and I am happy.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Three words: I Am Lucky
I was fortunate enough to have married my best friend three months prior to being diagnosed with cancer. I can't imagine going through this cancer journey without him. He was there to hold me when I cried, to tell me I was beautiful when I lost my hair, and give me encouraging words when I was down. I definitely believe the loved one standing behind the fighter also needs to be recognized. They make this cancer fight their own, they feel the same pain, they suffer just as much. God has truly blessed me with an amazing life partner.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
After I began to lose my hair, I immediately went out to my local vintage stores and bought a handful of scarfs. I got different colors, prints, and sizes. The last thing I wanted was to look like a "cancer patient," I wanted to be able to go out and look healthy and normal. I experimented a bit and finally figured out how to tie the scarf that worked for me.
Here it is, step by step:
You will need a regular squared scarf (Preferably thin)
Fold diagonal to form a triangle.
Place the scarf behind your head, with third triangle pointing at the forehead.
Bring the outer corners to the front.
Tie the 2 corners making a simple knot.
Tuck the center triangle point behind the knot that was just made.
Last, tie a bow with the two remaining corners.
The end result should look like this, you can always adjust and make the bow bigger or smaller depending on your preference.
I wear my head scarf everyday since I lost my hair, it makes me feel great when I get compliments from strangers that don't know I'm fighting cancer. I refuse to let any disease take my identity away, and no other patient should either.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
One word....Chemo, the toughest treatment any cancer patient will undergo.
It didn't take long after I was diagnosed that I began my chemo treatment. Although I would like to believe I saw past losing my hair, it was always on my mind. I did some research and came across Penguin Caps, the cap that prevents hair loss while receiving chemotherapy. I opted to buy 6 of them, I did everything I could to keep my hair for as long as I could.
I looked very silly on my first treatment with my cap on. Side note: We took a big cooler with all 6 caps and a block of dry ice to keep them frozen.
One week after my first treatment I began to feel the side effects. I became weak and would not eat for weeks at a time. Sores appeared all over my body and stung, my nails turned black and brittle and my skin was super dry. I also had the typical nausea, diarrhea, and shortness of breathe. My biggest accomplishment was taking a shower, and even then I didn't have the strength to do it every day. My bones would hurt, especially my knees; I could not stand for very long. What was unexpected was to enter into pre-menopause, my menstrual period stopped and the hot flashes started. To this day, 8 months later, I'm still dealing with menopause at age 25. Chemotherapy really took a toll on me.
My hair fell off 2 weeks after my first chemo session, it was my biggest nightmare. My husband and I would wake up in pools of hair. My hair was everywhere, all over our sheets, all over the floor, all over our clothes. I would run my hands through my hair and huge handfuls would fall off. I would cry every time I showered, I couldn't escape it. As vain as it sounds, it hurt so much to see my hair go. This only meant that I REALLY DID have cancer and it was determined to kill me. I was ready to fight back.
4 months later I finished chemo, I was so excited to finally be done! I was on a very strict diet during the treatment and all I asked for was a mango cake from Porto's to celebrate. My awesome husband made my wish come true.
Chemo is rough, it is challenging, it is painful; but I conquered. I gave it my all and fought as hard as I could. Cancer took my hair but it did NOT take my life.
In the words of my wise husband;
"Suck It Cancer!"
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
This is my first post in a very long time, I decided I wanted to start my blog fresh as I begin a new chapter in my life after cancer; which I will get into with more details. But first I'd like to back track to August 30th, 2014...my wedding day. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm; and I couldn't believe I was marrying my best friend. I was excited to start our lives together as a newly wed couple, argue about what way the toilet paper should roll and annoying each other with new found habits. We had a great 3 months before I was hit with what felt like a rocketship right in the stomach, leaving me almost dead.
November 20, 2014
I went in to the doctors with pain in my breast and a moderate size lump. The year prior I had gone to the doctors with the same symptoms and they vaguely said it was a cyst. This time around I was hoping to hear the same results, but as soon as I got the ultra sound done the nurses seemed to be concerned; the doctor was rushed in and I was told I needed a mammogram and biopsy done asap.
November 21, 2014
It was Friday, I got a call from the doctors while at work, I was urged to go see the doctor that day. I wasn't told too much, except that it was urgent. I called my husband and told him I was headed to the doctors, being as anxious as I was he drove out to the doctors to meet me. We showed up and I went in alone, I walked in to see the doctor sitting behind her laptop very poised. She announced the biopsy results were not good, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma..... Breast Cancer.
I was in shock, I couldn't process the thought....Breast cancer???? Me????? At age 25!?!? My husband walked in, and the doctor very bluntly with no sympathy repeated herself. My whole life fell apart within seconds. I couldn't believe it, much worse I couldn't believe I could be dying and leaving my new husband alone.
I remember wanting to go to home to my parents, I needed them. Lucky for me they only live walking distance from the hospital. I cried the whole walk there, As soon as mom saw me she knew something bad had happened. She kept asking "what happened?"......."Jasmin what happened?" I couldn't tell her, the words wouldn't come out, and I couldn't stop crying. Finally I was able to blurt out the sentence, " It's cancer". I can't tell you how much it hurt to see my parents fall to their knees in agony. They didn't know what to do, or what to say. They just held me as tight as they could, that's where I felt the safest.
As I sit here typing this I can't help but cry, not because I am sad but because I realize I was blessed with the greatest family anyone can ask for. They are all I need in this life, and they have been my biggest support group and my biggest cheerleaders. Fighting cancer has been the toughest challenge I ever had to face , but I believe I was given this trial to make me stronger, to bring my family closer, to make my marriage foundation solid, but mostly to bring me to closer to God. I trust Him now more than ever, my faith level has grown immensely and with Him by my side I can do anything...And I did.
I'm a cancer survivor.