To all the gorgeous ladies who are struggling with breast cancer: “You are stronger than you think, and you are beautiful; it doesn't matter how cloudy your life looks”.
Today, rock painting is my hobby and escape. Painting rocks gives me peace and allows me to share my happiness with others. Besides giving them away to my friends, I like to leave newly painted rocks next to others in public places.
Today, I proudly celebrate being a breast cancer survivor. So far I learned to listen to my body and put my life into perspective.
Two years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I was introduced to the world of cancer. I was a mature and fulfilled person being a lead esthetician at the peak of my career. I enjoyed my job and every day of work was a pleasure for me.
The doctors said I had an Invasive Lobular Carcinoma of my right breast, 2 cm, HER 2 negative, stage II. When they told me the diagnosis, I felt like my days were numbered.
All the horror stories about breast cancer and chemo came to my mind. Their confidence that this disease is treatable helped me. But, I said, "I don't want to do chemo!" I looked at the treatment plan and I didn’t understand it.
My brain was unable to process anything; the only thing that came to my mind was that it will take forever.
My cancer journey started with a mastectomy surgery which also involved the removal of my sentinel lymph nodes and partial reconstruction (July 3rd, 2018). Later on, I had a second surgery, which was about more lymph nodes (August 3rd). After that came the chemo, the scariest days of my life. The procedure prescribed by my oncologist involved four rounds of Adriamycin and Cyclophosphamide, which were followed by twelve rounds of Taxol. After the chemo, I did six weeks of radiation treatment (twenty-four sessions), but this was like a walk in a park compared to the chemo.
The fear of not being able to practice my job any longer was a scary thing. I had nightmares that I would not be able to use my fingers, which is essential in my job. I also worried about getting sick during treatment due to my weakened immune system. But the support I got from my family, friends, and medical staff helped me overcome my anxiety. For me, the worst part of my cancer journey was the day I lost my hair. I have to confess, I prepared myself in advance for what was coming, but the way I felt the minute I started to lose my hair was unreal. It hit me hard for days because a woman’s hair is her treasure. My husband showed me the bright side of wearing wigs, which is having the option of different hair colors. My advice is to have two wigs ready before you begin chemo.
My meals, at that time, were based on fresh fruits and vegetables. I had a lot of fluids that helped me avoid any complications and strengthen my immune system. Also, I covered my feet and hands with ice to prevent neuropathy.
Chemo brain is real! I felt disoriented, lost, and tired. So, I did tons of yoga, meditations, and I began rock painting. Let me tell you, my fellow beautiful ladies, how relaxing and rewarding rock painting is; it's like therapy. Before I had never thought that a painted rock could bring me so much happiness.
Yes, it was a long, difficult journey, but honest to God I had a smooth sail. I worked every single day; I was able to have a normal life filled with lots of love from my family and friends.
Right now I am still painting rocks, and I am on hormonal therapy with Tamoxifen.
Every day when I wake up I thank God for giving me another beautiful day on this Earth.