Today we introduce Jessica, LBBC friend and guest blogger, who is sharing her breast cancer journey and how she came to discover LBBC’s Yoga on the Steps: Denver.
My journey started at the early age of 40 in late September of 2013 when I was sitting in what I call, ironically, my “happy place”. My happy place is a small chair in my bedroom next to a large window where I look out at the mountains, decompress and think of my day, my family, what I am doing the next day or maybe what I am making for dinner. I remember standing up to go downstairs and feeling that something felt strange and cold. I checked under my shirt and saw that I had a small amount of discharge from one breast that had stained my shirt, and when I say small, I mean tiny – it was hardly visible. I changed my shirt and didn’t think twice about it and went on with my day which was having lunch with one of my best friends. We usually talk about our kids, school or maybe something our husbands did wrong the night before. That day, however, was different, for some reason we discussed what its like to get older, our aches and our pains. We laughed, and I remember the words I said to her exactly “at least you don’t have liquid coming out of your breast! A few more laughs and as always, I left, picked up my kiddos from school and went on with my daily routine.
A few hours later, I was sitting at home and got a call from this same friend. “Jess”, she said “I just talked to my Mom and I mentioned our discussion to her, the one where you told me about “liquid and breasts, her words to me were “My mom thinks you need to get it checked out, my Mom is a mammographer and she thinks it’s no joke”. Honestly, that is when my life changed, in an ironic twist of fate, a comment I made as a joke, saved my life.
Within a week, I saw my gynecologist, had my FIRST and only mammogram and was scheduled for a breast biopsy due to some “strange calcifications” that had been
detected on the scans. All of this back and forth was overwhelming to me, the words, the terms, the tests. I was 40 years old and kept thinking to myself, “this stuff doesn’t happen to people my age, there is NO history of breast cancer in my family any where, I don’t know anyone with breast cancer – lets just get this biopsy done and be done with it, its all a mistake, all of these doctors are going a little overboard, it was nothing I kept saying, nothing. Let me go back to my happy place and be happy. Leave me alone.”
October 31, Halloween for most, I now call the worst day of my life. My phone rang a few minutes before I was to take my girls out trick or treating. I was alone in my room and one of the doctors said “It’s not what we were hoping for, I’m sorry”. Honestly, after that, I heard nothing, I dropped the phone and cried, and cried and cried. My first call was to my husband and my second call was to my brother in New York. Within twenty minutes my husband came home, I couldn’t speak, I gave him the phone numbers, I mentioned the word “Carcinoma” and bits of diagnosis information I had written down on a piece of paper. He called the doctor back to have them fill in the blanks. Ductal Carcinoma In Situ or DCIS – that was my diagnosis, cancer in the right breast. An MRI would be next, surgeon after that, get genetically tested (I was negative) and figure out my options….
For those close to me, I have unfortunately, always been a “glass is half empty ” kind of person, however, the day I walked into my surgeons office, that changed. I was nervous, I was terrified, I was crying. My doctor walked into the room and I think, before she even said hello to me, she sat down next to me, looked me straight in the eyes, put her hand on my leg and said “You are going to be ok”. From that second on, I can honestly say, I haven’t looked back, I knew I could fight this and I knew I would win. Cancer would NOT beat me, I would kick its butt and thank god, today I can say I did kick its butt and you know what, it feels damn good.
I decided I would be very aggressive in my treatment and on December 13th,2013 I had a double mastectomy and started the long and painful process of reconstruction. On March 21st, I had my exchange surgery and today, I consider myself cancer-free.
During one of my Physical Therapy sessions in February, I came across a flyer for LBBC. I had never heard of the organization and since I really enjoyed yoga at one point in my life, I figured this might be the way for me to get more involved and raise money for a cause that is very near and dear to my heart. I am passionate about reaching out to others in my community and I will do what I can to help other woman who are or who will be walking in my shoes. Yoga on the Steps is a way for me to give back, its a way for me to do something I truly love while helping others find support and information on this horrible disease. If I can make a difference in ONE person’s life, then I know, this journey was all worth it.