On the afternoon of Friday, August 5th, 2016 at the age of 36, I got a phone call from my OB/GYN and heard those three dreaded words...you have cancer. I ran the gamut of emotions - shock, fear, disbelief, anger - and was mostly terrified of leaving behind my husband and two young children (ages 6 and 3). We were planning to head out of town that weekend and still decided to go...time spent together before the onslaught of tests, opinions from oncologists and surgeons, plans of attack, discussions about work, etc. A true whirlwind that kept us buoyed from August - January (when I finished my 16th round of chemotherapy) before the emotional and mental impact of what was going on hit me. But we persevered...a lumpectomy, lymph nodes that tested positive (but a clinical trial where they weren't all removed), 30 rounds of radiation, hormone therapy and finally therapy to ensure I didn't lose proper mobility of my arm from the tightness in the tissue and muscle post surgery.
I am a numbers person and the amount of appointments at first scared me, but they kept my emotions somewhat at bay. The amazing nurses, men and women at the check in desk, my oncologist, surgeon, radiologist, therapist....knowing I would see one of them at least weekly kept me on track, moving in the right direction, I was going to be OK. And then it all stopped...treatment was over and life was supposed to return to regularly scheduled programming. It doesn't really work that way, so we find a new norm....new shoes that are still somewhat ill fitting but will do for now until we grow into them or we try a different pair.
My new 'norm' thankfully includes Go Jen Go thanks to an amazing woman I met shortly after moving here 7 years ago. She introduced me to the men and women of the Board, Jen's family and friends, and they are truly amazing. Although I still struggle with the emotions of treatment two years later and what my purpose is here on Earth, I know one of them is to help other men and women that are faced with this battle...and I hope that no one ever has to go at it alone. I am so thankful for my army that supported me from day 1 - family and friends near and far that lifted me and my family up in prayers and provided constant love and support. I want to be part of that army for others - we are stronger together. Thank you to my #stephstrong army that continues to stand by my side!