You never forget the moment you are diagnosed with breast cancer.

For me, it was the first time I opted for a 3D mammogram in 2017. I received a call asking me to come in again for a follow up. They told me they just wanted to check on something. I asked if it was serious and was reassured that my file was not in the “bad pile”. I remember having the second mammogram and being told by the technician that she wanted to look at something on the ultrasound.  We moved into another room and the mammographer started the ultrasound.  She left about ten minutes later to get the Radiologist.  Within a few minutes the Radiologist was in the room telling me that I had breast cancer. I did not believe her. I think (ok, I know) that I swore like a sailor. I was completely shocked.  My husband was not with me, because it was just a follow up mammogram. They didn’t even need to do a biopsy to determine that it was cancer; the Radiologist could tell from the borders of the tumor.  I walked out of the office crying. As I was leaving the office, the receptionist called out “Have a great rest of your day.” I didn’t even have words for her. I walked through the parking garage on Hale Parkway sobbing uncontrollably. I am sure people in the garage thought I was crazy.  

The night I was diagnosed was a tough night. I was completely terrified. I had no information about the cancer I knew was in my body. Had it spread to my lymph nodes? Would I need chemo? Would I die? Would my children be left without their mother? This question stopped me cold - my sweet girls could not and should not have to live without me.  My thoughts were an endless loop of questions.

Over the next few weeks and months, as I started to understand my prognosis and what my journey entailed, I also started to think about why my body created cancer. My breast cancer was highly estrogen and progesterone positive. Based on that I tried to understand how and why my body grew cancer. I read books, blogs, forums, and talked to anyone and everyone about breast cancer. My main takeaway was that my brain is constantly moving and my body cannot always keep up. I have struggled with being in the moment and finding balance. I know how important both are to being happy and healthy.  

At the time of my diagnosis, I was under a lot of stress. I was overseeing two preschools and mediating full time.  I was also the primary caretaker for our two girls. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is amazing. His job, at the time, was not very flexible. I was able to set my schedule, so I juggled it all. I did it to myself. It is in my nature to try to do everything all the time.

I now realize that pushing myself and my body to that extent was not healthy. When you are extremely stressed, your body’s cortisol levels are very high. I remember specifically dealing with a lot of problems at our new preschool (which opened in 2016) with teachers and parents. I was experiencing so much stress that I could not sleep at all.  I was exhausted all the time and my body was a mess hormone-wise.  

I knew something was off for quite a while, but I had no idea what it was until my diagnosis. I learned that I need to find balance and to take care of myself. I now meditate regularly. I go to acupuncture and massage regularly. Most importantly, I say no when I need to and I don’t try to do everything all the time. My life and my future is valuable to me and my family. I want to be here and to be in the moment.  

My husband and I both adjusted our workloads. He quit his job and started running our preschools. I focused on my mediations and my husband was able to do a lot more with the kids with driving and appointments for the girls. We truly stopped and evaluated our lives and how we wanted to reshape them given my diagnosis. I am forever grateful that I received the message the way I did, so that we had the opportunity to change and grow. It was the wake up call that I needed to learn to live life to its fullest and to be in the moment with the people that I love.