Anyone who's gone through a cancer diagnosis can divide their life between pre-cancer and post-cancer, and the chapter in between is one of the hardest.
My breast cancer journey was diagnosed March 17, 2021, after feeling changes in my left breast just 2 months prior. I quickly went from, “hmm, what’s that?” to “Honey, am I crazy? Do you feel what I am feeling?” to meeting with doctors guiding them on how I needed to be treated despite imaging indicating benign findings. You might say I was on a mission to get to the bottom of what felt like a ticking time bomb. It was as if my gut was leading the way.
You see, I’m a registered diagnostic sonographer and am trained to know what malignancy or benign tissue looks like through ultrasound and I agreed it looked benign, but the way my body was speaking to me didn’t feel right I knew I needed a biopsy.
I needed to know what "this" was. I couldn’t get a biopsy quick enough.
When diagnosed, I opted for an aggressive approach. I chose a bilateral mastectomy. I thought, if I could get it once, I could get it twice. I had no idea the foreshadowing that thought would have on my life, considering statistically, I "should" only get it once.
I went through most of 2022 thinking this was behind me, I was going through what I thought felt like my glow up. I wholeheartedly believed what all the doctors told me at the beginning of this journey, "it was just a little bump in the road".
I still believe that.
Summer of 2022 I began to feel what felt like tiny bb's right where the biopsy site was, I’m not one to take anything for chance so I made my first appointment to get his opinion on what I was feeling. I went back and forth for 6 months out of concern but still giving it the benefit of the doubt that it was just scar tissue.
December 2022, I had had enough, several phone calls and appointments later, I thought, "I don't care if we "think" its scar tissue, I want this out, and I want to go into 2023 with this completely behind me. I've waited my whole life to become who I am today and I'm ready.
I made one last call to the doctor and I said, “I want this out, when can we do that?”. He thankfully listened, obliged and we scheduled a quick 1 hour in-office appointment to take it out and be done with it.
I can remember our conversation vividly while he numbs my left breast. As he’s cleaning the area, the scientist inside me is intrigued at the idea that he was about to slice open my breast and I wouldn't feel a thing.
As he works, he spoke to me about his wife, and I could tell as he spoke of her that he is a good husband. He spoke to me of his 2 sons and a childhood friend that was like a brother.
I spoke to him about my family and how I had created Sanara, how Sanara celebrates indigenous Latin American botanicals, that its paying homage to my ancestors and that I’m in Four Seasons, growing my brand and how the name comes from the Spanish word, ‘sanara’ which means, ‘you will heal’. I spoke to him about my family being of Mexican descent, how they were migrant workers and that the border had crossed us, and it was cotton season that settled my family in West Texas.
He was intrigued and said how my family must be very proud of me.
He's right, they are and so am I.
All in all, it was a very comforting conversation.
He finishes, then places the specimen on the table. The scientist inside of me is intrigued, so I ask him, “Can I see it?”
He says, “Sure!”, proceeds to hold it up, and says, “Hmmm….it’s a little bigger than I thought it was. I thought to myself, “Hmmm…that’s exactly the size I thought it was.”
That nagging back of my mind feeling made me ask, “We’re going to get that tested, right?”
“Oh yes! Of course, we are!” We’ll get the results in about a week.
Alright, good. I get dressed and go home. I had done all that I could.
I got the phone call, one week later. I saw his name pop up on my phone and for some reason I had the inclination to be overtly positive and “cheery”.
I still ponder that inclination as I remember it so vividly.
“Hi Dr. How are you?!”
I knew it. Shit. Gulp.
He told me what I was feeling wasn't scar tissue but it was Ductal Invasive Carcinoma.
He told me the breast cancer isn't gone and then mumbled off some other information.
I'm shaking my head in confusion because again, my gut was right and the doctor was wrong.
“You said what? What’s it called?”
“Ductal Invasive Carcinoma. Your persistence, literally saved your life.”
April 2023, I’m halfway through chemotherapy treatments and I've grown and learned so much about listening to my body, advocating for my health, self-love, life, and receiving so much love from my community.
While my journey is unique the message of listening to your body is not. You must be still enough for long enough to hear it speak.
Advocate for your health. You don’t have to know all the answers, you just need to know that you must do everything you can to find them, and you don’t stop until you do.
And self-love starts with the courage to slow down, speak kindly over yourself and gently listen to your mind and body speak.
It could save your life.