August, 2015: I was in Paris, delighting in finding a champagne bar at the top of the Eiffel tower, and blissfully celebrating my 43rd birthday with my husband, son, and daughter, who was turning 10 the same day (we share a birthday down to the minute). I returned home from this epic trip, refreshed and ready to return to my life, the kids’ school year, my beloved neuropsychology practice, colleagues, patients, friends and family. I had, by all measures, everything I could have ever wanted and then some.
What I actually returned to, however, was an advanced, life-threatening, breast cancer diagnosis. Rather than return the following week to the practice I’d worked so hard to maintain and build, I was thrown head first into a world of biopsies, bad news and botched attempts at my last name. I was swiftly reduced to a medical record number and date of birth. It seemed surreal. We were suddenly not talking carpool and dinner plans for Saturday night, but facing life and death discussions, treatment options, frantically searching for the best cancer facility, and booking a double mastectomy. I couldn’t even remember what I had previously considered a “problem.”
Having initially been diagnosed at Stage 4 and being told I had an average prognosis of just 3 years to live, I dropped to my knees when we received the miraculous news weeks later that it was not in fact in my bones. I was upgraded to Stage 3C, and given a chance at a cure.
The gratitude that washed over me was indescribable. Having had to prepare myself for an early death and to say goodbye to my small children, and then suddenly being told I may have a chance at a cure – left me stunned and feeling like I had one foot in and one foot out of this world as I tried to assimilate this trauma and new information. I started noticing how amazing small, ordinary moments can be, and also see the love and humor in almost every situation. It was always, and had always been right there, all around me, all the time. You just have to tilt your head so to speak, the way you look at things, the tiniest bit and you can see it so clearly. Well, cancer gave me my head tilt. I am hoping to give you yours. Welcome to The Cancer Couch. It is not only a foundation and a movement to create awareness for metastatic breast cancer, but also a blog about my journey with cancer – the good, the bad and the ugly. Sit down, read, laugh, share, and enjoy. Stay with me as I go through this scary, but necessary, journey to not only defeat my own cancer, but to continue the work and awareness that needs to be done to help those who are living with Stage 4. As long as I am alive, I will keep fighting for them to have a chance at a cure too.