It all started a couple weeks after my birthday in September of 2012. I recently moved to sunny Southern California with my husband, Brandon, my 5 year old daughter, 3 year old daughter and 6 month old son. As you can imagine life was extremely busy and full of excitement, or should I say chaos!
We just got settled into our new house, were working on getting the girls acclimated to a new school and getting life back to normal. I always nursed my babies as long as I could, and this time was no different, except Gabriel kept acting very strange when I nursed him on my right breast. Eventually he would not nurse on that side and kicked and bite and screamed at me when I tried to feed him. It took 2 weeks of this before I realized he was trying to tell me something. I immediately called the doctor. I thought I had a breast infection. After seeing my Ob/Gyn, she suggested I see a specialist and referred me to the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Beverly Hills. I went the following week for an ultrasound and biopsy. The doctor said the lumps were likely related to breast feeding and they would call me in a week. While attending my daughters soccer practice the next day, I received a call from Dr. Kristi Funk, the director of the center. She explained I had some abnormal cells and I needed to return for a bigger biopsy.
On September 24, 2012 at 3pm, I sat waiting in an examination room with my husband when Dr. Funk entered the room. Her demeanor was serious, she had a serious look of concern. She cut straight to the chase and told me I had Breast Cancer!
I screamed and cried and asked if I was going to die! All I saw were my babies faces in my head and I could not bear to think they would have to go on living without me. It was the worst thing I could have ever imagined. Then I got mad! I was only 33 years old, I thought I was healthy. I exercised and didn’t overindulge in bad behaviors. How could this be?
On my way home before I could look my children in the eye, I stopped at the beach for a chance at some peace. I walked down to the water, sat there on the sand and thought and thought and prayed and prayed. It was then I realized that we have choices in life. We can chose to be grateful and live life in happiness, or not, and lose all the precious gifts we have been given. I decided then and there that I was going to research every possible way to help myself heal, Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally! I was in charge, and I promised I would make the changes necessary to Flourish and Survive! The rest was up to God but I wasn’t ready to die.
Further testing revealed I had multiple tumors and was BRCA1 positive, which is a genetic mutation that predisposes us to breast and ovarian cancers. It was determined that my best action was to undergo a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and breast reconstruction.
It was a lot to swallow but I tried to be positive. Hey I figured at least I was getting a nice new pair of “girls” for my birthday! On October 20, 2012, I endured a 12 hour surgery to remove both of my breasts and get that cancer out! I even had Dr. Funk take a photo of my cancer. I just had to see what it looked like. It was dark and gross! I was so scared. I never had surgery and this was major. It was a long and hard recovery. I stayed in the hospital for 5 days, recovering and learning how to use my arms again before I could go home. I could not hold or hug my children for 8 weeks, but I was here, and I was going to be here for years to come! Thanks to the help of friends and family, we managed to take care of our 3 small children. As soon as I could move, I was back to making lunches and volunteering in class again. I tried to live every minute I was given.
Once I was healed from the operation, it was time for chemotherapy. I started chemo on December 4, 2012, 4 rounds every 3 weeks, and yes I would lose my beautiful long brown hair. I prayed I might be the only woman to ever not lose her hair. You see, I had lots of hair and I was convinced mine was not going to fall out. But boy was I wrong. Just 10 days after my first treatment, my hair began falling out all over my scarf. Brandon took me to Fantastic Sams (that was a first, I’ve always been totally in love with my hair professionals and would spend ridiculous amounts of money on my hair!) We both shaved our heads that night. I cried and cried in our bedroom before donning a beanie and going to my oldest child’s kindergarten Christmas show. I sat watching and hoping that I would be alive to see her in the Christmas play in 8th grade.
The next day I went with a old friend to a fabulous wig shop. It was a blast. I tried on all kinds of wigs but the blonde ones were my favorite. I had never been blonde and boy was it was fun. I bought 2 blonde and 2 brown and hit the town! Man you get a lot of attention as a blonde! The wigs helped me deal with a world that was crashing down around me. I felt out of control and desperately wanted to find something I could take control of myself. Thus began my self discovery and education in Health and Wellness.
This wasn’t a quest to lose weight or have better skin. To me, this was my opportunity to live a long life and win this battle against cancer. I talked with all of my doctors and their office staff, searched the web endlessly, and bought tons of books about food, exercise, and mental wellness. I essentially taught myself to be an expert in the field. After that I enrolled, graduated and received my certification as a Holistic Health & Wellness Coach. Over the last 6 years, I've been Speaking, Teaching and Guiding people towards a healthier lifestyle not just through nutrition but a real focus on total lifestyle wellness. And I know those healthy meals, my daily exercise, stress toolbox and determination got me through the darkest of days and into the light. The light of my new life and it is incredible!
My Family without your support I would have crumbled. I love you!
In May of 2015 I unfortunately experienced a recurrence of my cancer, while that was at first a devastating revelation it also further advanced my determination to survive and flourish. I dove head first into more self reflection and what I found out was I now needed to conquer my mind. Stress, fear, anxiety, loss and sadness needed to be coped with and strategies needed to be found. I went through the necessary treatments both of western and eastern medicines and I rebuilt myself again. I currently enjoying sharing my path to mental awareness and coping strategies for all of life's challenging times.
Its been 2.5 years and I'm feeling better than ever. Not only am I cancer free, but I am FLOURISHING! My new head of hair is beautiful, and my skin hasn’t looked this good since I was 20. After all those years, struggling to lose weight, I am now 35 pounds lighter. Am I starving? NO! Do I deprive myself of anything I really want? NO! What I realized is pretty simple. A positive attitude is essential for the ultimate function of your body as a whole.
Seriously. Cancer made me HOT and HAPPY! So please, join me on this journey for yourself and your family. My goal is to spread the knowledge I've learned as a woman, mother, daughter, certified health & wellness coach and motivational speaker. Lets do it together! Lets teach our children and ourselves to lead healthier, happier lives.
Clean up your life and let’s Flourish together!
WE ALL DESERVE IT!
Team TBG 2014 Malibu Triathlon