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This Life

My HER2+ Breast Cancer Journey

Recently diagnosed with breast cancer in June of 2021, I'm writing about my experiences as a cathartic release and to remember my journey.

Surviving and Thriving

January 26, 2022

Surviving and thriving is tough even on the easy days. I am 10 weeks post final chemo and 5 weeks out from my partial mastectomy with reconstruction and lift. While I am doing well, even on easy days like today when it seems like life is coming back together for me, I still weep. I lay in bed this morning anxious about the days ahead with radiation and antibody treatments on the horizon. The moments I begin to feel like myself are the moments I realize I have to push through more attacks on my body, striving to keep it as active and as healthy as possible. It’s a beatdown and sometimes heartbreaking when I look in the mirror. This is a fact of my life.

The decision not to have a full double mastectomy was a difficult one for me to make but one made together with my surgical oncologist. It was a decision made in both science and faith but faith won! We decided it was in my best mental interest to try for the partial and hope for the best or I would have regrets. After committing to my choice, I was emotionally ready to accept whatever outcome came my way. One week post-surgery at my follow-up visit I learned that my margins came back clear, and the only two lymph nodes removed were free of malignancy. Reconstruction and reduction came out amazing. All I had worked and hoped for was made possible for me, praise Jesus. Not only was it great to hear from my surgical oncologist that pathology came back great, but I also heard it from my oncologist, my plastic surgeon, and my radiotherapy oncologist as well. What a confidence boost. Any microcells left will be cleaned up by radiation and immunotherapy.

Last year I had about 4 ultrasounds, 7-8 mammograms, 4 biopsies, 2 PET scans, 4 CT scans, 4 MRIs, 2 echocardiograms, and 2 surgeries–one to implant my medi-port (about 15 minutes) and then my breast surgery (5 and half hours). I’ve had 6 chemotherapy sessions and 1 saline IV session. Up next are 13 antibody infusions and 33 radiotherapy sessions. The past 6 months have felt more like 6 years to me and looking back it all seems so surreal. I’m proud of me though because even while enduring all of that, I still managed to have my best year ever in my business working with almost 30 high school seniors and doing over 100 headshots.

Why did I feel compelled to post today? Because I’m feeling emotional and need to get it out. These are the days I need a release when the tears just make their way out of my eyes like a slow drip. I don’t want to weep, I much prefer a happy flippant state of mind, but I also cannot control my emotions sometimes and have to let go to move forward. I’m happy to be accepting clients and planning for work and achieving new goals. I’m happy to be feeling well enough that I’m walking 3-4 miles several times a week; doing my lower body exercises; and able to start putting some weight on my arms. I want to handstand so much and be on my head! Haha. It’s these moments during quiet times when I feel “healthy” that give me pause of what lies ahead in treatment for my body to continue its fight. It upsets me, makes me mad, and frustrates me because I don’t want anything to disrupt the gains I’ve made to get back to my “normal” self.

Smiling anyway!

Every day is a fight to get back to me, but I don’t know that I’ll ever be “me” again and when I reflect on old images of myself the only thing I can say is “I miss you.” Still, I’m determined to be the best I’ve ever been because every day is a gift. ~Angela

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  • chris

    You are an inspiration. I am always enriched by reading what you have to share. 
    I’m headed to FL tomorrow, but I hope to see you sometime soon, when you need new company. I’m triple-vaxxed by the way.ReplyCancel