Ceta Diaries: Life With Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Awareness

Welcome to my new series, Ceta’s Diaries.  If you are new to following me, I have a lot going on. I am currently going through a divorce while fighting Stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer.  How’s that for one-upping adversity?  It’s a lot!  I won’t lie.  There are days and nights when it is so hard to keep a smile on my face.  Yet, here I stand.  I am using this series to talk about all things divorce and breast cancer.  This is where I will release the many thoughts that are in my head for my peace of mind.  I set out to change the narrative around divorce and now I have to try and do it while battling breast cancer.

Living With Breast Cancer

I will forever remember October 31st, 2019.  It is the day that my life forever changed.  It is a day that I wish I could erase from my life’s past.  It is a day that will forever be the reason I will always be “different”.  Halloween 2019 is the day that I went to have a mammogram and ultrasound.  It is the day that my results said the changes in my breast may be due to breast cancer. I cried immediately.  I then sucked it up to go out and tell my aunt only to feel the tears come rushing down my face again.  I ended up having two areas biopsied the same day.  How could this be my life?  I kept my secret for a weekend.  A few close friends knew, along with my prayer warriors, but if you know me, I think I can handle anything all by myself and didn’t want to tell anyone.  I also didn’t want people to worry about me.  Fast-forward to November 4, 2019.  I got the call at 5pm.  My biopsied areas were positive.  I indeed had breast cancer.  WTF!  How could this be?  I just filed for divorce 6 months prior to this devastating news.  How on God’s Green Earth can I be a single mother of two boys, with breast cancer?  My life was on track for meeting the next Mr. Right.  I had come to the realization that my “wusband” was the perfect man for me in that moment that we fell in love many years ago but we are different today.  I was finally excited about the idea of meeting the man for who I am today.  My friends were encouraging me to date and I was finally open to it … and now this.  How did I just get diagnosed with breast cancer?  This has to be a cruel joke!  Where is Ashton Kutcher?  I’m being punk’d but this is the worst prank ever.  But, it wasn’t.  It was my reality.  A reality that I didn’t want to deal with but I had no choice.

I carried on with life as usual until I was staged a week later.  I cried the night the biopsies came back positive.  I cried myself to sleep.  I cried in the shower and I cried every waking moment for two weeks straight.  I even got up the next day after my biopsy results and went to give an admissions tour at the boys school.  Was I nuts or on autopilot?  It’s a tough call but I’d like to say I was a little bit of both.  I carried on as if nothing happened.  I was in total shock.  I came home and wondered what was going to happen to my life. How was I going to get through this without a husband?  Who was going to hold me at night and kiss me on my forehead and tell me it was all going to be okay?  I had just decided to end our 15year relationship.  Who was going to take care of me? Who was going to take care of my sons?  Divorce was more than enough for them to deal with. Why would God do this to me and my children?  What was my lesson to learn in all of this?  What was I supposed to do about work? I had spent the past three years creating a business that would allow me to take care of myself financially.  I had so many questions in my mind that I couldn’t say out loud.  I was lost and so confused.  I was fine as long as I was around people.  But, it was when I was alone that my mind began to ask, “why now?”.  I say this but the reality is there is never a good time to have breast cancer.  I just didn’t expect to have it as single mom with two kids while going through a divorce.

Diagnosis

To be honest with you, this was all a blur.  If Andrea hadn’t gone with me to my appointments, I probably wouldn’t know I went.  I was the walking dead for two weeks.  It just felt like (still feels like) I was in the twilight zone.  I am so thankful for the doctors that are responsible for my treatment.  I know I am in good hands.  Yet, it still sucks to have to say I have Stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma (breast cancer).  My treatment plan involves chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, radiation, 10 targeted treatments for HER2+, and reconstructive surgery.  It sucks!  It blows!  Breast cancer is the BLE (biggest loser ever)!  I know I have portrayed myself to be strong throughout my journey.  But, I don’t have a choice.  I have to be strong for the sake of my sons.  I, more than anything, want them to see me as an empowered woman.  I want them to love and honor strong women.  I want them to love me for who I was before breast cancer.  I want them to know how to handle adversity.  I want them to know how important it is to live a full life.  I want them to always see a rainbow in the midst of a storm.  But, if I could break down and crumble I would, because it’s a lot.  I’m tired of being strong.  I am now literally the epitome of the phrase sick and tired.

Chemotherapy

I have chemotherapy every three weeks.  For the first time in my life, I didn’t turn to Google to tell me what to expect.  I ventured into the unknown.  What I have endured with chemotherapy is pain, exhaustion, and patience.  It’s a range of emotions.  I tell my friends more often than not that I love them.  Not because I’m needy but because I want them to know how much I do.  This is a lot and in the midst of this storm, it is love that gets me through.

Chemotherapy is awful.  It strips you from all things you knew before it.  My first chemotherapy treatment was like being in a fight with Mike Tyson blindfolded.  I didn’t stand a chance.  I had diarrhea for 19 days.  Initially, the former model in me was excited about the “skinny” side effects.  The reality is it made me dehydrated.  It also gave me burns all over my body.  Chemotherapy is basically a slow burn inside out of your body burning and killing everything inside. I have heartburn that has created acid and indigestion.  My stomach feels like I’m at a Tony Robbins convention walking hot coals.  The steroids that I take before chemotherapy make me feel like I’m at a Studio 54 party without the fabulous people and amazing fashion.  I’m awake hours on end and then expected to get up at 6 am to get Clark and Stone ready for school.  Wtf!  How is this my life right now?

The positive is I haven’t had a period since my first chemotherapy treatment.  I’m forever looking for the silver lining these days.  We have to celebrate the small wins in life. I now have this crazy tingling feeling in my fingertips thanks to chemo.  Lord knows I hope it all goes away once I’m done with chemotherapy treatment.  I also can’t remember anything to save my life.  Chemo fog, which is what it is referred to, is like pregnancy brain times 10.  It’s the worst!  It’s bloody awful (my inner Brit shows up every once in a while).  The side effects are all so crazy.  It’s all too much.  My left eye cries on its own at random moments.  Now, people get to think I’m nuts.  I mean, I certainly have a right to be at this point, right?  Yet, I can be cracking up laughing and my eye will just start crying on its own for no reason whatsoever.

I Am Not My Hair

This deserved its own section under chemotherapy.  Losing my hair was so hard.  I started to lose my hair after my very first chemotherapy treatment.  It was awful.  I attempted to do the cold cap process and sooner rather than later decided I would nix that idea (after paying for it) and take full-blown cancer head-on.  I really wanted to hold onto my hair.  Then, after speaking with a friend that is a four-time cancer survivor  (breast cancer twice), I know I am not defined by my hair.  I say this knowing I’m not ready to share my bald head with the world.  I have managed to show my aunt and a few best friends but I’m not ready for my Instagrammable moment.

I realized I was trying so desperately to hold on to my hair for the boys as much as I was for me.  I didn’t want to look sick.  I needed them to know I was going to be okay.  So, I made this my prayer.  I asked God if I could be the exception to the rule of the side effects and that I don’t look sick.  Praise God for answered prayer because I have been extremely blessed through this journey.  While chemotherapy feels like a fight with Mike Tyson, I don’t look like it.

I began to cut my hair week by week leading up to my first chemotherapy treatment.  I thought it would be easier to manage a short bob to a pixie than from bra length hair to a bob.  I had my short bob for about two weeks.  I loved it.  Then, on New Year’s Eve, I went for it.  I cut it into a cute pixie hair cut.  I hadn’t had my hair this short since college.  I loved it for all of 12 hours.  I say this because by the time Janet and Andrea came to pick me up, I had lost more than half my hair.  I had to use hair fibers to fill in the bald spots.

New Years Day couldn’t have been any more sad and depresisng.  I was at home alone, on the sofa by myself, starting a new decade and a new year and I was losing hair by the minute.  At approximately 11 pm, I couldn’t take the huge handfuls of hair that continued to fall out and I cut it all off myself.  I was too chicken to shave it off so I used craft scissors.  I cried!

Cheers to the beautiful women that can rock a bald head.  God has blessed me with many physical attributes but a beautiful head wasn’t one of them.  I didn’t “see” myself with a bald head until a few weeks ago.  For the first time since January 1st, I could look at myself bald and feel okay.  Needless to say, I don’t look like Adwoah Aboah and won’t be gracing the covers of Vogue anytime soon.  I pray I will get the courage to own this part of my journey and share with the world.  It’s okay if I don’t.  I’m learning to give myself grace in it all.

How To Live Your Life In 10 Days

This is not a rendition of the Kate Hudson film How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  lol.  I have a 10-day window post-chemotherapy that I look and feel myself and these are the days that I live it up.  I wanted to still be able to work in some capacity even if for free.  I needed to get back to my life after trying to have breast cancer in December.  You see, breast cancer can be so isolating.  You’re not really around anyone.  Everyone assumes you’re home and not living life.  I was also terrified to be around people because I didn’t want to get sick and end up in the hospital.  I didn’t hug or kiss my children because, let’s face it, kids are germ smugglers and they bring home all the things from school.

Then, there was a day that I picked the boys up from school and I saw Stone.  I was so happy to see him because I hadn’t for 5 days because he was sick.  I was walking towards him to give him a big hug and his face was filled with sadness.  He said “mommy you can’t hug me because I’m still sick, I still have a cough. ” He looked crushed.  That’s when I got to see how “having” breast cancer wasn’t just affecting me.  It was effecting my boys and that’s when I put my boxing gloves on and I started fighting.

I love my boys moe than life itself.  And, I’m not ready to stop being a part of their lives and I’m not done creating memories with them.  So, I got on my knees in the lobby of his school and I said “you know what Stone.  I don’t care if you’re still sick.  I’m also sick and a hug from you is what makes me feel better so give me the biggest hug you got.”  He had the biggest smile on his face and I knew at that moment that I couldn’t let breast cancer change their lives too.  The mama bear in me said you can’t change their lives too.  You can derail mine temporarily but not theirs too.

Since my revelation to shift gears, I have taken them to birthday parties, basketball games,  bowling and arcades to make sure they know life is back to normal.  With that said, I started to feel like I was a stay-at-home mom again where my time was devoted only to my boys.  I have to have a balance for my mental health.  I mean, I don’t care how much I love them, if you watch my instastories you gotta know Stone is a good 30-minute prayer to keep from going to jail every morning.  With that being said, I knew it was time to get back to my life as well.

I contacted my girlfriends and asked if we could have a girl’s night out.  I so desperately needed a girl’s dinner.  I needed my life to look like my life before breast cancer.  I worked, traveled, and spent time with friends before breast cancer and it was all gone.  I couldn’t let breast cancer win so I have tried getting back to life as I knew it before November 4, 2019.  We attended the grand opening of RPM Seafood.  The food is amazing, by the way.  Afterward, we went out for karaoke for Andrea’s birthday and I had the time of my life.  It was just what the doctor ordered.

I also started working out with Zach Glasgow with ZFit again.  My trainer knew I couldn’t do high intensity anymore but something was sure better than nothing.  I average about 3-4 workouts a month.   I’m 1/2 tired and 1/2 lazy in regards to doing more.  I feel good when I finish working out but I wish I could do more.  The reality is, in regards to working out, it’s hard to not want to do what to do in the gym so I tend to just stay away.  I want my muscle toned body back.  I am working so hard on being patient. I don’t recall praying for patience but clearly it is a lesson for me to learn in my life.

Work has had its ups and downs.  I forget things more than usual.  I have been blessed with quite a few sponsored posts while battling breast cancer.  I truly wish I could work at the speed I was before this happened but again I’m grateful for brands that are so understanding.  It means the world to me to continue to do something I love doing if even on an extremely
part-time basis.  I don’t know what the future will hold for me once I’m done with this.  Consistency is key for anything in life and I’ve been consistently inconsistent.  lol.  I’m trying but at the same time, I realize I’m just doing the best I can. I have to just be still and wait to see how this all plans out.

Ceta Diaries

I hope you have enjoyed my new series.  It was hard to figure out how to create a space for sharing all things divorce and breast cancer.  I don’t want breast cancer to take over my blog and my life.  However, I did think it was necessary to talk about.  After all, it’s the reason I went public with my diagnosis.  It is so important to share my story and to bring awareness to this awful disease.  The alarming statistic of 1 in 8 women will have breast cancer in their lifetime is so scary.  If I can help get one woman to perform a self-check exam or get a mammogram than it was all worth it.  For more information on breast cancer, visit Breast Cancer.org or if you’re in Chicago Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation

Love and Light,
Ceta

 

 

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