Seven years ago, a group of us from Keller Williams Realty Premier set out on a journey to Chicago to walk the 60-mile Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure. This walk was in honor of our friends and loved ones who have battled breast cancer. Lifelong bonds and friendships were made on that blistering trip.
Little did I know that seven years later to the day, I would be diagnosed with Stage 3 Ductal Carcinoma In Situ and Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.
I started a hardcore chemo cocktail on Aug. 20, 2019. We arrived at 7:05 a.m. and left around 5 p.m. I spent most of the day being blessed and humored by posts and texts. By Aug. 26, I felt like I had been hit by a bus. What was planned as a lab draw and doctor visit on that Monday turned into an all-day event.
I finished up with the draw, and as I was walking across the lab afterward, I started seeing stars and nearly passed out. Good thing I had lost 15 pounds because the nurse was able to catch my tall, lanky self and plop me in the chair before I face planted (hats off to her and the rest of the staff, who I am now on a first-name basis with).
My blood pressure was 62/46, I was dehydrated, I lost 6 pounds in six days, and my white blood count was low (you can’t take me anywhere, I tell ya). We spent the rest of the day in the treatment room replenishing my fluids, steroids, anti-nausea meds and an injection to increase my blood count.
I have always been one with a thick, dry, coarse mane of horse hair that could supply wigs for a family of five. On day 14 after the first chemo, my hair started falling out in blobs from head to toe; it was like Nair gone wild! Obviously waxing will not be needed for a while. I went to bed looking like Ruth Buzzy in a hairnet! To make the transition from the longest my hair had ever been to a bald cone head, we did none other than have a mohawk and shave party (who would have thought that getting a mohawk and buzzcut could be so much fun?).
I have undergone four of six rounds of chemo every three weeks for 18 weeks. Chemo plays havoc on the body. The good news is that every chemo since, I have followed up with fluid treatments on Wednesdays and Fridays, and it has helped immensely!
The plan after chemo is a mastectomy and then party on to radiation. I think I may forego the restoration surgery and explore prosthetics (don’t be surprised if you see me with one Dolly Parton on the left and maybe a size A on the right just to freak people out!).
Cancer sucks, but I am making it as fun and adventurous as possible. My mindset from day one of being diagnosed was to take the humorous, positive approach to power through it with prayer, wit and grit.
This cancer business is like no other. Cancer isn’t for dummies either. In fact, I am contemplating writing my own version of “Cancer for Dummies.” From firsthand experience, the chapter of what not to do would include, “If you have a severe headache from all of the symptoms of chemo and meds, make note and don’t ice burn your forehead with an icepack and don’t burn your forehead with a hot corn pack” (in my defense, I fell asleep when this occurred).
Family, friends, coworkers and church family are all critical parts of our lives. We get so involved in our own fast-paced lives, routines and habits that we sometimes lose touch with people; it’s no one’s fault, it just happens. I encourage you today to reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. By reaching out, I mean a real phone call. You will be glad you did!
I have a friend who went through breast cancer, and she encouraged me to create a closed Facebook page so others could follow my journey. She had done so and said it is a great way to keep others informed of my journey. I took her advice, and creating that page has been such fun and also great therapy.
When I was first diagnosed, some friends were at my house and they came up with the Facebook page name, LIVE LOVE LANA. This was also our team name for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk that we hosted on Oct. 19, 2019, at Mohawk Park.
If I would have neglected my body, I would be beating myself up. I get physicals, blood work and mammograms every single year. I have done everything preventative that I could possibly do. No one in my family has ever had cancer that we know of. The genetic testing results were negative. One in eight women will get breast cancer period. Listen to your body!
I am working during this adventure. I continue to provide stellar and entertaining real estate assistance. I have temporarily teamed up with some realtor peeps who share the same work ethic as I, and it’s working out great!
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, PRAY with Thanksgiving and present your requests to God.” -Philippians 4:5