I have been thinking all weekend about how to break this news to the world. I joked to my sister that it is my attempt at breaking the internet. Around this time last year, I was scheduling an appointment with my gynecologist because the lump in my left breast had not gone away and my lymph nodes were becoming painful. Soon after, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma that was HER2+. We had a plan in place that would result in me being cancer free and able to move on with my life. This past Friday, everything changed.
My cancer has returned. It has spread to my right axillary (armpit) lymph nodes, my right clavicle and neck lymph nodes, the lymph nodes in the center of chest, the skin on my chest and the bones in my butt. This is considered a distant spread, or metastasis, and I am now Stage 4. We are awaiting tests to confirm, however it is believed that the HER2+ protein in my cancer was removed with surgery and that I am likely triple negative now. This is an aggressive form of breast cancer and frankly, it is a game changer.
We do not yet know the path forward. We are awaiting the call from the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa in the hopes that they can take my case on and put together a treatment plan that will give me time with my family. We will also be pursuing other centers to review options. While my prognosis is not ideal and it is something that we hoped we would never have to face, it is the reality and we are reacting to that reality.
This has been a challenging weekend for my family. We have cried more tears than I thought possible. I enjoyed more wine than I care to admit. I hugged my family a lot. I enjoyed time with family and friends. My husband and I had conversations that we should never have to have in our young lives. I cried some more.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not giving up. I don’t think that I have it in me to ever give up. On my family? On little man? On life itself? Never. The reality of our situation is painful and it sucks and quite frankly I hate it. But, I had my pity party this weekend and it is now over. Today is a new day. Today, we face reality while having faith in our future together, regardless of how limited it may be. Today, my family and I rally together. We will put together a plan for us to enjoy each other, the world and every moment that we have together. Today, we make memories and embrace each other.
This weekend, I heard a recurring phrase. It is one that is not lost on me and that I keep repeating over and over again in my head…
I am Red Phoenix. I will rise again. I am not alone.