When I first got diagnosed I did not want to tell anyone, especially my daughter. My maternal instincts of trying to protect her from feeling pain and fear took over completely. I saw how she had suffered when my ex-husband, who was diagnosed with a rare stomach cancer, shared too much about his treatment with my then 4 year old. I did not want to see that pain in her eyes again. There was a killer in my house and this was so terrifying. I had something enter my temple without permission, without a warning and it was secretly trying to kill me….slowly with no sign of a struggle. I had no idea what it was and I didn’t even know it was there until it started to strike. I tried to hide from it, but there was no escape. It was there…in my house, my temple invading my well-being.
When I first heard the word CANCER, it didn’t compute. What?! How could this happen? I was the healthiest, fittest, and happiest that I have ever been in my entire life. I didn’t drink, smoke, or even take Tylenol. I exercised and felt good! I looked good! Why wasn’t it all good!? We use any excuse to justify that we are fine, but fear is always at the root. I was afraid that the lump I felt in my left breast was SOMETHING. That the strange indentation was SOMETHING. “But it’s probably nothing! You’re so young!” was the consensus among anyone I told about my mammogram appointment.
When the results came back, the killer was identified as IDC — Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I knew I had to be strong to not only get through surgery and treatment, but for my family. I prepared myself for the fight for my life. After my surgery, I realized that I cannot keep this from my 7 year old child. She wanted to know why she was spending weeks at daddy’s place when she was used to see him only a day or two a week. We live in a small apartment in Brooklyn. I had tubes and bags with blood coming out of my body, these are hard to hide. Knowing something was wrong and that I was in pain, my daughter asked “mommy, what’s wrong? Are you going to die?” Her huge blue eyes staring at me with that deep innocent concern made my soul scream. Providing a truthful response without sharing too much information; I told her that my body had a hick up, but now it’s fixed and with some more treatment I will be fine.
Chemo was more difficult to handle for all of us…even though I worked and tried to put up the brave front, I felt so tired and so scared. Every room, nook and cranny of my temple, my house and my body was flooded with poison. Poison to destroy the killer. To eradicate the murderer that had snuck in with only one intention…to destroy me. Cell by cell, brick by brick the home to my soul would have been demolished, so what choice was there but to fight? Fight for my life.
My daughter started to act out to get attention and I was overcome with hurt because I couldn’t understand why she was not more empathetic. She would spend more time with her biological father and would come home upset. At the same time, I felt guilty about not being able to spend quality time with her. I couldn’t help but to think that my appearance played a part in pushing her away. When my hair started growing back she was able to talk and ask more questions. During this time I discovered that my sickness brought up fears about her own health and found out that she had started to worry a lot more about how little things impacted her health. We powered through as a family and I was able to spend more time with my daughter.
My daughter is the inspiration behind the Mila & Such silk scarves that I created after chemotherapy as a way to accessorize my new look. She reminded me of a little blooming rose and I started seeing people in my life as blooms, weeding out my own garden, only keeping those who were in tune with my new journey. Certain colors and their vibrations can be used to assist the body’s natural healing and recuperative powers to achieve and maintain well-being. Very much a part of my breast cancer survivor journey, that healing energy infuses each one of my scarves. It has been two years since my initial diagnoses. Slowly my emotions started to come back, like the flowers around the garden after a drought. Little by little, with every passing month of being healthy, one blossom at a time.