I Am More Than Cancer: Honey, It's What Makes Us Girls: Boobs and Hair.

In 2009, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. At the time, I had an equal number of friends with cancer as without, and upon hearing the initial biopsy report, my first thought was “Well, it’s my turn. Here we go.”

At that time, they thought the mastectomy would be curative, but as it turned out, I had positive lymph nodes. I found this out in the recovery room and it was the only time I cried. It meant chemo. It meant losing my hair. And then the feelings of guilt that I was actually crying over hair. My oncologist took my hand and said, “Honey, it’s what makes us girls. Boobs and hair. It’s ok to cry.” And then we laughed and I never stopped.

I had two truths:

  1. The treatment called for 8 rounds of chemotherapy and 7 weeks of radiation.
  2. I am a self-employed, single, professional athlete who competes horses for a living.

My first hurdle was merging these two truths into a compatible, functional system.

I was blessed with a remarkable team of doctors who understood that I had to stay as functional as possible while they made me well again. They did everything they could to lessen the side effects and keep my bloodwork stable. On my end, I had increased my strength and changed my diet, prior to starting treatment. I learned to track my chemo recovery pattern so that I knew when the harder moments would come and go. I learned many little ways I could take the power back every day.

A few weeks after my last chemo, I was fortunate enough to compete at the highest level of competition in the equestrian sport of Eventing, the Rolex Kentucky 3 Day Event. My horse and I completed a personal victory under the circumstances and one I will cherish forever.

Like so many I have spoken to, I am oddly grateful for this experience. It is not a journey of cancer, but rather of gratitude and appreciation. Awareness and joy. And love, so much love.

ABOUT Deborah

Diagnosis

  • Breast Cancer

Primary Treatment

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Surgery

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