Welcome to the Party of Five Blog! This is my tiny corner of the internet to share our adventures with three babies. The story of my life is made up of many different parts: living as a breast cancer survivor, being a daughter, wife, and teacher, and most recently a mom. Becoming a mom, first to twins, and then to number three, has been the most exciting, scary, and humbling experience of my life. The twins are now eighteen months old and the baby is seven months. People always say… “How do you do it?” The only answer to that is that I pray and rely on faith A LOT and that I get on-the-job training EVERYDAY. And sleep, very little sleep.
Keep reading to learn more about why our babies are miracles…
In 2007 I made a huge life decision to move to New York City. After two years living and working in South America, I packed up my bags to begin my graduate degree at New York University. And life was so very, very busy and good.
In March of 2008 I noticed a coffee bean sized lump in my right breast. I was 28 years old. I mentioned it during a routine pap smear and was sent for a biopsy “just to be sure” that everything was ok. Three days later, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer (estrogen, progesterone, and her2 positive). As a young woman (under 35) without a family history I had a 5% chance of getting breast cancer. Following my diagnosis, I had surgery, six months of chemotherapy, and a double mastectomy all before my 29th birthday. After extensive testing, we found nothing in my genetic make-up to understand why I developed breast cancer (this means I am BRCA negative). In an instant, I was faced with making major medical decisions and I would soon become a long-term patient. Following chemotherapy I completed a year of additional intravenous medications and other therapies. My whole life changed in moments and I had no idea what was waiting for me on the road ahead. I had never even heard of someone my age having breast cancer! Looking back on the experience now, I can say that they were the darkest and most frightening days of my life. However, within all the darkness, there was some light. I was blessed with excellent doctors and a supportive family. In the face of a terrible situation, I had amazing health care and early detection on my side.
Who am I? I am the person who googled “Chemotherapy was awesome” just to see if I could find someone who made it through the whole thing and felt ok. I was scared of dying. I was so scared of spending six months feeling sick. My google search turned up nothing. BUT, I was determined that the treatments would not take over my sense of well-being. I was diagnosed at the healthiest time of my life and that still surprises me. Before my diagnosis I was running several times a week, eating a healthy diet, and feeling that I was at optimum health. How could this happen to me?
Before I began treatments I started to research health and wellness. I was determined that I would stay “healthy” during my treatments and I promised that I would never let the poison of chemo keep me in bed for one whole day. And while it was not “awesome”, I did really well. I managed to run or walk 2-3 miles five out of the seven days of every week I was in chemotherapy. I knew the movement gave me strength and I am a believer in sweating to feel better. Truly, I believe the constant exercise is the overwhelming reason why I handled chemo so well. I green juiced everyday. I ate clean and healthy. I still lost my hair and I was noticeably weaker and fatigued by the end. But, my doctor always commented on how I looked healthy and had a positive attitude. A positive attitude does not save you from cancer, but it does help you get through it without feeling like your world is ending.
I spent the entire summer of 2008 going through chemo treatments and scouring the internet for stories of young cancer survivors who made it into their 30’s. At that point, I did not know if I would get there. I looked for women who went on to have children and who were eventually living a non- cancer centered life. Unfortunately, I stumbled onto stories of death and those who lost their battles more often than happy outcomes. Women were not blogging about experiences in 2008 the way they are today and what I found when I searched the web for “young women with breast cancer” were most often memorials or remembrances. I tried to process everything that was happening to me and work out the scenarios. My prognosis was good, but a lot of the cancer world is spoken in percentages. There was a 5% chance this could even happen in the first place and I was hearing things like a “probable” five year survival. I began to contemplate some of life’s big questions. What would my future look like if I do live a long life? Thinking about those big questions always led me back to one wish: I always knew that I wanted to be a mother. I knew without a doubt that the true desire to have children existed in me. Going through those dark moments gave me an extreme appreciation for life, gratitude for everything we have, and it strengthened my faith in God.
Fast forward eight years later and here we are with our Party of Five! Follow along with us as we have toddler and infant adventures!