A beautiful nightmare

This entry was written by Jaime Rossano. Jaime was diagnosed with 2B invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer. Jaime, an instructor at a play and music facility, is alsocollege student pursuing a degree in Humanities and Social Science Every other Friday, Jaime will share a blog entry about her breast cancer experience. This year-long blog series is in honor of LBBC’s 20th anniversary.

To read Jaime’s previous entries, enter “Jaime Rossano” in the search box on this site.

I can’t help but wonder what people think when they see me walking outside, in the mall, with Ronnie, or when I’m coming and going from different doctor appointments.  I walk around everyday looking to see another woman wearing a scarf for the sake of connecting with someone going through what I am. I can’t find anyone. I know there are women all over who have a story but I can’t seem to find any. I feel like I am on a search-hunt.  I want to listen to someone else tell me their experience. I want someone who actually understands what I am feeling to just talk, so I don’t have to talk anymore. I just want to hear someone else tell me they feel the pain, anger, exhaustion, disappointment, worry, fear, sadness and frustration that I feel.

 I feel like I am playing a game. I am on medication that is attacking my entire body from head to toe. I’m hoping to have good days in between the really bad days. Some days you feel like a slug, some days you are a burst of energy. You have surgery that makes you feel like a puzzle with a few pieces missing. I hate to say it, but I feel like Frankenstein. You may gain weight or lose weight which depends on where your weight started – this might make you happy or completely miserable. I lost my hair and then it grew back and now I’m losing it again. Dear Hair, make up your mind. My fingernails actually hurt and look so dry and brittle. I feel like all I am doing when I think to myself is complaining in my on mind. 

I have been having a REALLY hard time with my self-esteem lately. I am no longer in my size 10 jeans, I am no longer in my medium shirts, my bras don’t fit and they shift all day, my eye brows are just a mess and I have no eye lashes. I truly feel like Shrek!

 How am I able to feel beautiful?

 How am I supposed to feel sexy?

I know this is temporary and the doctors tell me the weight gain is from the steroids and because I am retaining water – but enough is enough. I haven’t weighed this much since I was pregnant with Ronnie and I got a gift from that weight gain.

All everyone tells me is how good I look. Really, are you looking at me? I know that is just the proper thing to say to someone in my situation but I rather you not say anything about how I look.

On a more positive note: I only have one chemotherapy treatment left before I begin radiation.  I’m so excited because after a few days of practicing, Ronnie is now counting to three all by himself.  He is growing before my eyes and I am a very proud mommy.

20th anniversary, LBBC, living beyond breast cancer

We can’t wait until Ronnie starts counting to ten!

To read Jaime’s previous entries, enter “Jaime Rossano” in the search box on this site.

15 thoughts on “A beautiful nightmare

  1. Hey my love,
    I don’t quite understand the fustration because I have not been in your shoes, But maybe this is your time to find a group like the women from cooper was telling us about!! It is a very crazy thing to lose your hair and gain weight but I honestly think you look great for going through what you have been!! You hold a positve attitude through the whole thing and that makes you sexy in it self. You made the comment that you gained weight during pregnancy and got a gift well during this unfortuante weight gain you are gettting a gift you are getting the gift of life to spend with you friends family and the most importanly your son!! I am proud to say you are my best friend you have showed me what life is really about!! I love you more each and every day for the courage you show to everyone around you!!! Hold you head up only one more therapy to go through !! You are beautiful inside and out no matter if you feel it now you will see if real soon!! Love ya girlie!!
    Your BFF,

    • All I can say is thank you for being the best of the best. You have helped me over come so much and have held my hand through some very hard times. I will have more coming so keep on holding tight.
      Love you………

  2. I have been in your shoes! I was 31 at dx. Stage II B infiltrating ductal carcinoma. Lumpectomy, lymph node surgeries. Radiation. 8 rounds of chemo. Lost my hair, etc…weight gain. I also had my ovaries removed to supress estrogen. My boys were 3 and 5….it was such a struggle. I knew NO OTHER YOUNG WOMAN around in my shoes. I relied on the internet. Found so much support, love, understanding and connection. I did meet one wonderful woman, a cancer survivor–of an different kind—who was awesome–she reached out to me. But, I had to depend mostly on my family, peers at work and the internet for survival. It was so hard. I often felt alone. But I had decided early on that I would try to stay as positive as possible because I believed I could conquer this. I had fear and knowledge that it could beat me….but, I fought hard and tried to keep focus on life, my family—my young boys, my husband. My will to live. I agree I felt many of the awful feelings, had many of the awful thoughts, had crying binges and pity parties for myself…but then I would bounce back up and turn it around. It was a process.

    I want you to know I am 44 years old now. My boys are 14 and 17, I am still married. I have not had recurrence or any new cancers. I am still overweight but that is the least of my worries.I am a survivor. You can be too. Keep up the fight, allow yourself the negative feelings and thoughts….then work hard to focus on the positive —the goals to conquer that cancer, to heal and be stronger. I send you prayers and hope to get through this.
    Thanks for sharing your experience. I am sure it means so much to others out there feeling alienated ,angry, and frustrated!

    • Angela,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story with me as well as others. I am finally feeling better. I have been so positive through this whole thing so far and haven’t allowed myself to feel sorry for myself. Well last week I did and that is how my blog came about. I can finally say I am starting to bounce back and fighting back. Congrats on being a survivor for 13 years with many more years to come.

  3. I have not been in your shoes personally but as a nurse and breast care coordinator, I can tell you all those feelings are normal. Every breast cancer survivor has had all the fears, anger and frustration you are feeling. Of course you don’t like any of the changes to your body. You have lost so much which has all been out of your control. I will tell you the control will come back. Your job right now is to stay healthy mentally and be in the moment. Don’t get too far ahead. I think your friend Jenn is right that you should try and talk to other women….mainly other breast cancer survivors who are your age. I think it will help to talk to someone who really understands. Someone who knows without words being spoken. Fortunately and unfortunately there are not a lot of young breast cancer survivors. I think you have my e-mail. I can put you in touch with young women who will really understand. Women trying to fight their disease while trying to remain upbeat. Just make one small step to try and be in touch with someone, what ever step feels comfortable to you. I don’t think you will regret it. Life will go back to normal…it will be a new normal but it will be better. You will treasure the really small things in life and let the unimportant go. You will find peace again. I think the fact that you can be so honest with your feelings will help get through all this. I will keep you in my prayers.

    • Kathy,
      Thank you so much for reading my blog and posting. Lucky for me I have gotten in touch with two other young survivors who have been so open with sharing their stories with me. It just feels so lonely that when you are out in public I am the only one I see with my scrafs on. I never see another person sitting in a resturant, going food shopping, walking around the mall. I don’t know if it because I won’t allow myself to just stay at home or if it’s because others choose not to come out. I have learned to treasure the small things and just let the things that used to get under my skin just go because the fact is that I am fighting for my life and I a winning. Thank you again for all your support.

  4. Hi Jaime!

    I am EXACTLY in your shoes right now and I can honestly say I know EXACTLY how you feel 🙂 I’m 25, was diagnosed with BC on Novemeber 17, 2010, had a double mastectomy with reconstruction, and I just finished up my 5th of 6 chemo rounds. I’ll have my last on 6/14. The next step is implants, and that is truly the only thing I’ve looked forward to with this whole experience. I had to laugh when I read that you say you feel like Frankenstien… I say that all the time! I also always say that I look like an alien when I’m naked! I seriously can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror after a shower. I feel like my spaceship is coming to get me at any moment! I was always a petite girl with long dark hair and olive skin. Now, I’m pale, 12 pounds over my normal weight (none of my clothes fit me either… I live in stretchy jeans), bald, and have literally half-eyebrows. I feel all of the same emotions you mentioned, and lately I’m more frustrated than anything. This is my favorite time of year and all I want is to be on the beach, getting a tan and having my hair get a little sunkissed. But obviously, none of those simple pleasures are possible right now. At the risk of sounding silly, I feel embarrassed also. I’m embarrassed that I look the way I do. I was always confident in the way I looked and felt beautiful, but the past 3 months has stripped me of that, taking everything including my self-esteem. People also tell me how great I look, but just like you, I know I don’t look my version of “good” so I dont want to hear it. I read and speak to alot of women who are survivors and are thriving and look amazing, but I’m patiently waiting for the moment when I feel like a survivor. Because right now, even though I’m winning, I feel so defeated. I look forward to and wait for the moment when I come out of this a warrior, stronger than I’ve ever been before… complete with beautiful hair, body, nails, eyelashes, and eyebrows 🙂 If you ever want to chat, please feel free to e-mail me! It feels a little better to know there is someone else out there in my shoes going down the same exact path.

    • Rita,
      Thank you soooo much for responding to my blog. It does feel geat that I’m not the only one who feels this way. My last round of chemo is on Monday (chem #8). Then off for radiation. Thank you for being strong and battling ths and running BC over like a freight train. You are so strong.


  5. Jaimeyour

    I get it sweetie! I feel your pain; and you are not alone. You will never be alone in this as long as LBBC is here. There is an army of us who have walked in your shoes. And those shoes are not SHREKKY shoes, they are Cinderella pumps. You are handling all of this with such grace. I have been following your blogs since you started and you are a very brave, strong, beautiful and confidant woman. Don’t forget that. Yes I know about the hair, weight, nails…. and I can validate your feelings; but keep your eye on the prize. Be strong, be well.

    Love, Lisa

    • Thanks Lisa,
      I am holding on tight. I think I will have to buy myself a pair of pumps and strut my stuff around the house for now to practice.EYE IS ON THE PRIZE> I get to watch Ronnie grow up and I get to survive.
      Thank you for supporting and following me through my journy.

  6. Jaime, I look forward to reading your stories because I can so relate to everything you are going through. I am 46, with 2 boys, 16 and 10. Diagnosed right before Christmas with stage 2, er and pr positive, Her 2 neg. invasive ductal carcinoma. My heart went out to my boys, wondering if I was going to be around to raise them. Cancer is like the big unknown. A strange cell that can not be trusted. I have just finished chemo and radiation started yesterday. I too wonder what people think when they see me out. Do they know I am a victom of cancer or do they think I just don’t have much hair? Or that I just like to wear bandannas. I can’t do the wig thing. They itch and drive me nuts. I know when I go to treatments people there must know because it’s a cancer center. But I feel everything you said you feel and it helps so much to know I’m not alone. I feel like hiding out untill this passes and I look normal again. I worry what my hair will look like when it does come back. I hear it will be different, maybe even greay! I had beautiful strawberry blond hair that everyone loved. I just want to look the same as I did. I also have the water weight gain and my leggs feel like lead. I do stay very positive though and know that I will come out of this a survivor and a different person. I have great friends and family helping me through this tough time. And thanks to you too for helping me know I’m not alone. I have read your stories and cried and laughed. Good luck to you and Hang Tough!!!! Jeannie

    • Jeannie,
      Well first I would like to thank you for supporting me and following me through my journey. I am glad that I can help in just the smallest way to let you know that you are not alone. My hair is starting to come back and yes it is a mousey grey/brown color I hate it. LOL It is still failing out when I was it though. I tried the wig thing to. My husband bought it for me for Valentine’s Day and i wore it twice. I couldn’t stand it. I felt fake. I just didn’t feel comfortable in it at all. I know already I am a different person and I am welcoming the changes. I am glad my stories have been able to comfort you and make you laugh. Talk to you soon.

  7. Jaime, I am 48 years old, married and mom of 2 boys , 24 and 20. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer last July and had a bilateral mastectomy in August 2010. I finished chemo in February and radiation in May. Congratulations to you on finishing chemo. One leg of the journey done, bring on the next!

    I laughed when I read in your blog that you think you look like Frankenstein. I would stand in front of the mirror and stare at this bald, scarred thing with no eyelashes or eyebrows and wonder who was looking back at me. I often told my husband I felt like Frankenstein. I wore a wig twice. I felt like I was wearing a wig and felt like everyone else knew I was wearing a wig. So, I became a hat person. I have gone a little overboard but I have a hats in every style and color you could imagine. I understand your statement about people telling you how good you look. I always had the same reaction you do. I wanted to yell, do you not notice my face is bloated and I have no eyebrows or eyelashes or hair… I look like a freak!

    I also know people mean well when they tell me how brave I am. I tell them thank you as I am supposed to… what I really want to tell them is that I am scared and I spent the first 6 months after my diagnosis crying in the shower every day. I don’t know that bravery has anything to do with fighting this disease. I’m just doing what anyone else would do in this situation… fighting like hell and trying to determine what my new “normal life” is!

    Good luck with radiation. I hope your treatment goes well and quickly. Your blog is helping more people than you know!

    • Barb,
      Thank you so much for following me through my journey. I think I am still trying to figure out what normal is. But right now things are not normal so there is no normal in my book. I feel like I cry so easy now. Someone just asks me how I am doing and I ball my eyes out. Or I catch myself crying on Ronnie’s shoulder for no reason and when he catches me he wipes my tears and says its okay mommy and then I just cry harder. I hope when this is all over it will be easier.


  8. I am currently on anatazole, an estrogen blocker. I take it once a day. One of the side effects seems to be insomnia. I thought that was done after the steriods taken with Taxol… SO, I’m back to zombie land until I can figure out my new normal sleep patterns! and just when you think things are going well and you’re getting into a new routine…
    Reality kicked in big time yesterday, We are refinancing our house and were filling out the paperwork when my husband
    asked me if we were going to take out the extra mortgage insurance in case on of us died, the house would be paid off. This is something we had never even considered doing before. Makes sense now though…

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