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Embracing this cancer journey

Post-day 1 chemo and cold cap therapy.

Life doesn’t always take us on the journey we expect, does it? I should know this very well by now. As a now 3-time cancer survivor, and every day adult who is thankful to be alive in her 40s, life certainly takes us on detours, some beautiful, some scary and sad. But as long as life continues, then we smile.

I shared a few weeks ago that breast cancer appeared in my life and I’m clearing the crap out of it. For good. Three is often a lucky number for me so I’m embracing this as ‘third times the charm’ and cancer will be forever cleared from my life. Hey, it works for me so join me in this awareness, ok? 🙂

I made the difficult yet necessary decision to take four rounds of chemo. It was unexpected and admittedly devastating to hear that I had to do chemo again. When I was 21, I underwent 13 months of aggressive chemo during bone cancer, lost my hair for 15 months, had 40+ blood transfusions and endured much more. I prayed for decades to never to do it again. But here I am. Sometimes we have to choose the difficult path to find the sunshine and right destination. And I’m choosing to live life EVERY DAY.

Lots of people are asking why chemo? Yeah, I ask that too. Despite my breast cancer appearing very early stage, being a small tumor, negative lymph nodes and surrounding tissue (all awesome outcomes that I hold onto every day!), my actual tumor tissue indicated a high risk of possible recurrence in 10-15 years. With my age, current awesome quality of life and desire to choose life for the next 50+ years, I chose to fight with everything I could – it’s tough to ignore a decrease from 30% to less than 5% when combined with other treatment.

I had my first of four chemo treatments last week. So far I’m feeling good, living my normal life. I go every three weeks so am already excited for April to be here (sorry to wish the time to fly!).

Cold cap therapy during chemo to save my hair! Prayers and fingers crossed.

On a cool note (ha, no pun intended), I am trying cold cap therapy to save my hair! Ironically, my clinic was the first in the U.S. to use the brand I’m trying, with 100% success rate. Since it’s only been a few days since treatment, I can’t say much about the outcome yet but of course stay tuned for more updates on this (and you can follow my journey on my Instagram page too). How stinkin’ amazing is technology though?? The cold cap freezes your scalp to prevent the chemo from hitting your hair foliclles so I wore the cap before chemo, during infusion and for four hours post. Between treatments, I only shampoo every 2-3 days with cold water, no scrubbing/pulling on the scalp, no hair products, all natural shampoo, no heat, pony tails, etc. It’s been a learning experience for sure and I’m still slightly paranoid, but so worth it! And as I started sharing my experience, I’ve been connected with so many other women who are using the cold cap therapy or finished – how AMAZING to find such a great support system to share tips and help each other. It kind of makes me cry (gratitude) because when I finished bone cancer treatment, I promised myself that I would help others as much as possible, and now I feel like I am the one receiving so much support and love. Life really does have so much beauty in it.

This journey is again a reinforcement of my dedication to advocating for cancer research, access to care and more. I’m in awe of the advancements of chemo, drugs to combat side effects and technology to help patients live as high of a quality of life as possible.

Even one example is that my dear mom gave me shots in my stomach between bone cancer treatments to combat low white blood counts (preventing infection). This time, I wore a patch on my arm for about 30 hours that injects the medication and after removing, it’s supposed to last 10-14 days in my system to help me stay healthy. That’s pretty cool!

I admit that I am still wrapping my head around being on yet another journey through cancer. I have my moments of tears and disbelief, but I’m doing my best to smile, focus on great opportunities that are already appearing and trust that this will lead me to greater joy and love in life. I am SO grateful to be surrounded by family and friends, near and far, who are continuously showering me with love, support and laughs. I have always adored and appreciated my tribe, but wow am I in awe of everyone.

8 thoughts on “Embracing this cancer journey

  1. Awed by your steadfast courage and hope….privileged to know and support you and Team Livestrong….

  2. You’ve got this Heather. Kick it in the pants girl!. I’m interested to follow and see the outcome of the cap too. I’ve never heard of that.
    Lost too many people I love to the Big C. Enough is enough!

  3. That was so beautiful Heather! You are my hero because of you courage and strength and the best outlook on life. I love reading your blogs. I love you and hope this is over for you soon and forever! 🥰

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