Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Beginning

cancer. There, I said it and I have it. cancer. No, that isn't a typo. I've decided not to capitalize it because the word already has too much power without a big c. With the encouragement of my brother and best friend I have decided to share my story with everyone. My goal is to keep my friends and family updated as I progress through treatment and I would also like to help and educate others who are going through similar circumstances.

For those of you who know me pretty well, I'm considered to be fairly intelligent. The hardest part of all of this so far is admitting to extreme stupidity in how I handled what was happening to my body. I'm going to start off my story in the most logical place, the beginning.

I'm not sure of the exact date that I noticed the lump in my breast. It was around November 2008. I was working for Prudential and it was my first holiday season there. I volunteered to work the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays since I didn't have any travel plans like most of my co-workers. I figured I would make an appointment to see my doctor once the season was over. About a week before Christmas we were all called in for a meeting in which we were told that our office was closing and that we were all losing our jobs.
Well, that meant we were losing our insurance. Even though I was still employed until April of 2009 I didn't want to have a pre-existing condition when I started working and had insurance again. So, here is where the stupidity kicks in, instead of telling my parents I needed help, I continued to watch the lump turn into a huge almost rock hard mass.

In July of 2009 I was super lucky to find a job posting on Craigslist for the wonderful job I have now. My new insurance took effect in September of 2009. I still put off going to the doctor because I didn't want to start taking off alot of time. My brother just got engaged to my beautiful Sister-in-law and was planning on moving. The holidays started coming around again and I kept putting off seeing a doctor. I lost my rottweiler Primo in December of 2009 and was devastated by the loss. John's move to Minneapolis was coming soon after and I was planning on moving as well (DC wasn't the place for me, I'm a suburbanite). I found a great place to live for me and my other rottie Bela and we moved on February 13. Of course with all of this going on, who had time to go to a doctor? Stupid, stupid, stupid! I'm sure I could have gone after the move but John and Janet's wedding was approaching and I didn't want to ruin their day because I had cancer (John and Janet, please don't take this the wrong way, the blame is on my shoulders, I love you both and I was just making excuses).

Now it's Saturday, July 24 and I woke up with a little fever and nausea. It was super hot that weekend I just thought it was getting to me (I prefer cold). I decided to go down the street to pick up a quick lunch but I couldn't make it. I was having blurry and double vision and being behind the wheel of my truck wasn't working out so well. I decided I would just rest for the day and hopefully I would feel better on Sunday. When I woke up Sunday morning, nothing had changed. My mother called just to check in and I told her I wasn't feeling well, but again I never mentioned my rock hard breast that was about two sizes smaller than the other at this point. I called her back about 7:30 that evening and told her I wasn't getting better and that I should see a doctor. She came over to make me some soup and to help take care of Bela. That's when I finally broke down and admitted to the secret I had been keeping for well over a year.

My father told her to take me to the ER and he would meet us there. We checked in around 8:30 and saw many doctors right away. They took me in for a short CT scan to see what was causing the double vision. The cancer had spread from my breast into my skull, not my brain thank goodness. The part of the skull that is affected is where my optical nerves pass through. Next, around 1 am they had me drink two large glasses of tea with a contrast liquid in them so that I could have a more thourough CT scan and an MRI. I was first admitted to the hospital and they found me a bed on the 6th floor. About 10 til 4 in the morning they came to get me for my tests. It was about 6am when I was finished and then it was time to try to get some sleep (no such luck, I'm still trying to get a full nights sleep). My parents came back early in the morning and that's when we heard the actual news. I definitely had cancer. It started in my breast and spread to my lungs, spine, hip and skull. They took a biopsy of my breast and we have a meeting with the Oncologist on 8/10 to find out what kind of treatment I will be receiving. I am currently undergoing radiation treatment for my head so hopefully I will have my full eyesight back soon.

That's enough for now. When I know more I will come back and tell you all about it. Next week I'd like to tell you about the treatment I am undergoing now as well as how I'm feeling physically and emotionally. I at least hope that if there is anyone out there putting off seeing their doctor that this will make you think twice. Get off your ass and go! You could save a life, your own!


  1. Thanks for sharing this Amy. If it is ok with you, I would like to share it on my FB so I can help raise awareness. Sending hugs.

  2. Ya know I am the same way about seeing doctors. Exactly the same and I have Crohn's disease so I just blow anything off that happens as meh its my Crohn's. I have been having to deal with these awful pains in my abdomen for about a month now and it got better and went away and now its back and ya know what I am gonna do? I am gonna get off here and go call my doctor. Because you told me to.

    Lady I have said it before but you are one of the sweetest. toughest chicks I know and if anyone can beat this stupid cancer it's you. and if you ever need anything don't you hesitate to call me!

    Hang tough, mama.

    Love ya lady!

  3. also, i just had to type a captcha to post that comment and it was the word "journey" i found that very fitting and thought i would share!

  4. Amy, we don't know each other but I am a friend of John and Jeremy and actually live in johns old room. I wanted to take a moment and tell you how sorry I am to hear about what you are going through. You are so brave to tell your story on a public forum. I know that you will enspire everyone with your strength. Please please please let us know if you ever need anything!!! Know you are loved !
    Nic sanchez

  5. i don't know you, but thank you for sharing. i can't tell you how many times i have put off going to see a doctor for exactly the same reasons as you did. i'm usually too busy taking care of everyone else and dealing with all that life has thrown at me, instead of taking better care of myself. your blog just may save someone's life, so please keep sharing.

    have some comfort in knowing that miracles do happen. if you aren't able to beat the cancer, at least know you have made a positive difference in this world. have some strength in that knowledge. whatever happens happens. it's in some ways out of your hands. but there is power in positive thinking. many people do beat cancer, so it is worth the fight. keep fighting.

    you are in my prayers. please keep us posted. and if you need anything, please call.

    yours truly,
    Un Lee

  6. Hi Amy -
    Love the blog - it's truly sad that women especially always make sure that everyone else is okay - and put off taking care of themselves. I have health insurance, and I never go because I'm chicken-shit and I smoke...and I hate know? But if the cat is acting funny or the dog has a bump - I'm at the vet right away. And of course, the kids go about once a week. I think it's wonderful what you're doing - can't wait to see when you've written that you're C-free and everything is back to normal in your life! Big hugs - Stephanie Crowe