Hello!! My name is Cindy and I’m 40 years old. I’m a wife to my husband Jorge (he is a police officer); I’m a mother to our two small children, Tyler (11 year old son) who plays (eats, sleeps, and breaths) travel ice hockey and Jaisyn (9 year old daughter) who competes in gymnastics (also eats, sleeps, and breaths it) and is currently a level 7 gymnast ; and I’m a care giver to my many patients (I’m a Nurse Practitioner) and now I’m a breast cancer survivor.
Thank you for letting me share my story. I woke up on Monday, February 19, 2018 never thinking that this would be the day that would forever change my life. I felt a lump in my breast and knew right away something was very wrong. I felt physically sick to my stomach. The next seven days were a whirlwind. First my gynecologist, then my very first mammogram, then an ultrasound and finally a biopsy. I tried to convince myself that the doctors were just be cautious but, in my heart, I knew that I was the lucky one; I was the 1 in 8 women.
My phone rang and all I can remember is falling to my knees in tears. How do I tell my husband? How do I tell our children? Will I die? Horrible thoughts ran through my mind. I thought about thousands of different ways of sharing this horrible news. When that moment came, all I could say was “I have cancer.” Yes, we were all in tears and for a very long time!! Treatment started very quickly. My mother and my husband became my caregivers. My son stayed near my bedside fearful that if he left I wouldn’t be there when he returned. My daughter, on the other hand, separated from me; my little girl wouldn’t kiss me, she wouldn’t hug me. My heart was broken until I could understand it was her way of coping; she felt like she needed to separate from me as if it would be easier for her when I was “gone.”
Within three weeks of diagnosis, I started weekly chemo. I knew that I would lose my hair, but I wasn’t prepared for it to happen so fast. The day after my second chemo treatment I came home from work and took my hair clip out and along with it was half my head of hair. I took this opportunity to embrace my journey and we held a little Shave and “GO PINK’ for breast cancer party at my house. My children along with some very amazing friends dyed their hair pink while mine was being shaved off by my daughter!! Yes, you heard me right, my daughter. It was an AMAZING bonding moment for me and my daughter and she has been by side cheering me on every day since!!
Once I graduated from the Red Devil (I’d like to know who thought that was a soothing name for a chemo combination) I advanced to round two which was supposed to be a much milder form of chemo. That was until it was learned that I was a BRCA gene carrier. Once again, I was the lucky one; the carrier of a rare inherited gene mutation. In the US, only about 1 in 400 people have a BRCA mutation. As you can imagine, it was at about this time that I seriously thought I ought to start playing the lottery. As a result of having been diagnosed with the BRCA mutation, my doctors added an additional chemo to my treatment which when combined with Taxol had a 78% less chance of cancer recurrence (which is HUGE in the cancer world), so I decided to give it a try. Well, my body didn’t like it very much. The very next day I landed in the hospital and required two blood transfusions, two platelet transfusions and my white count dropped to the lowest one could live with. This complication set my chemo schedule back three weeks.
On Friday, August 10, 2018 I finished my last of sixteen doses of Chemotherapy. Five long months of grueling chemo treatments DONE!!. I walked into my doctor’s office and rang the bell of victory; I shook that bell back and forth to celebrate that I had reached the summit of the tallest chemo mountain and I wanted everyone to know it. While my journey was far from over, I was in the moment. As I walked out of my doctor’s office, I was greeted by a HUGE and beautiful PINK limo and taken to lunch to celebrate with all my amazing family and friends who were there for me through my entire chemo journey (whether taking me to Dr appt’s, chemo treatments, picking my kids up from school and lugging them to sports, to setting up a meal train for me and my family!!)
I was given five short weeks to recover before undergoing a double radical mastectomy along with reconstruction. I’m still recovering and look forward a total hysterectomy (yes, all of my girl parts removed and taken away!!).
It’s hard to express in words how difficult this journey has been not just on me, but on everyone that loves me. Cancer doesn’t just affect the patient. Cancer has challenged my family mentally, physically, emotionally, as well as financially. My children witnessed me at my lowest. My husband had to care for me when I couldn’t care for myself and at the same time work countless hours of overtime to help us squeeze through financially. My mother found a way to smile (at least when around me) even when I was in severe pain, nauseous and vomiting. My friends pitched in where they could; bringing us meals, picking up the kids, and rallying around us all.
It’s equally as hard to express how breast cancer transformed our lives for the better. As said by the Dalai Lama, “the period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience is the most difficult period in one’s life.” My family and I truly have a deepened appreciation for life, for each other and for all those that love us. We all learned that we’re far stronger then we ever knew and together we are a force to be reckoned with. I learned to let people do things for me without feeling guilty. This diagnosis brought new and wonderful people into my life that I may not have otherwise met.
I am honored and humbled that The EBC Foundation has chosen to dedicate the 8th Annual Every Boob Counts 5K to me and my family. A scholarship fund has been created to raise funds so that my two children can continue to enjoy their sports while Jorge and I rebuild our lives financially. Whether I am able to walk or if I have to be pushed in a wheelchair, I’ll be there. Look for me and help cheer on all those that have fought the fight and all those that will fight the fight.
I am so grateful to all of those that support the Foundation and its’ missions to spread the message of the importance of early detection of breast cancer. I’m here today and I plan to be here tomorrow and that’s due in large part to having been diagnosed early. Please be proactive. Schedule your annual mammograms. Perform self-breast examinations regularly and if something doesn’t feel right, take action.
For more information about the 8th Annual Every Boob Counts 5K click here.
To register for the race click here.