I announced my cancer diagnosis two and a half years into living with it on June 3, 2017 on Facebook. Read on to learn more about my diagnosis, why I decided to keep it private, and how I rocked those first few years. Oh and enjoy a laugh when I talk about starting a blog near the end.
"Vulnerable post alert I've got some shit going on, and I want to share my truth!!!!
This is long, but there's no other way to do it justice. Also, I really don't like when people post vague things on Facebook. I think it's wasted energy for everyone involved.
I've been struggling with posting this, but here goes.... For the last two and a half years I've been living with metastatic breast cancer (cancer that has spread beyond the breast to bones and organs) There is no cure for this and I will be on various treatments for life. It's not a "fight" that will be over after chemo. Its chronic, treatments are for life, and if choosing words rooted in realism, it's terminal. The good thing is there are many treatment options, and I do have lots of choices ahead of me to maintain stability of the disease. The last two and a half years I was treated with hormonal suppressant therapy, which allowed me to live relatively unscathed, physically at least. Let's just say, mentally and emotionally, I've been hard at work! I've had so much wonderful support throughout, and I'm eternally grateful.
I wanted my privacy. I didn't want the word cancer stamped on my forehead. It's hard enough living life some days. I wanted to continue with my dream of running my own business. I've been fortunate to have this for two years. But now, I'm in a situation where I have to do chemotherapy due to cancer in my lungs. I'll be starting on Friday, June 9 - for 6 months. I'm really scared, more than I've been in last few years. Shit is real now. Well, it's been real the whole time - I just had the illusion of a normal life. I'll now look and feel like the standard cancer patient, I imagine. At least I have a hot lavender wig I'm excited to put on!
Not sharing was obviously a personal choice and it was derived from keeping my business going. I obviously didn't want to scare people away, and not think I could get the job done! But moreso from a determination to keep striving to achieve. I think that's one of the fundamental basis of our human existence really! Striving and achieving. Especially for women - whether that's through legacys of raising a family and/or crushing the patriarchy by expressing our rights or building a meaningful career. And I've done the later!!! In the last two and a half years, I've released two websites, maintained a blog series, had 16 campaign clients + dozens of consulting gigs, received two provincial funding grants, traveled to Europe, attended two conferences, and taken four courses in online marketing. I'm proud of everything I've achieved and built. My business has felt like the most creative and important thing I've ever done in my life. Having these years has been a blessing. It's something a lot of folks with late stage cancer dont get.
I'm sad to possibly be putting my career on hold. I don't know how I'll be feeling. Maybe I'll want to keep working and have something to focus on. Maybe I'll want to focus on myself. And after 6 months of chemo?!! Who knows?!! Living a good and full life isn't just about work. Its taken awhile for me to learn this. I know I have more to discover and experience in life - be it long or be it short. I also feel it's important to not be restricted by our identities. I am not just a publicist. I'm so much more and there's a lot I want to accomplish and get out of this world. When facing a chronic (terminal) illness you have to look at it this way. It alleviates the suffering.
The heavy question my psychologist likes to drop on me from time to time is "what holds you to this earth?" Sometimes I get angry and say, "Jesus! I don't know! Sometimes I still feel like I'm 25 years old and don't know what the hell I'm doing. Throw cancer on top of that and things are just more confusing."
Being a young adult with cancer is heavier than you can imagine.
I'm so fucking angry that I have to go through this. Radical acceptance is a thing that takes constant practice. 💪🏻
The last few months I've had to change to new hormonal treatments because cancer was progressing. Well I kept striving anyway. But thoughts would be creeping in like "I'm living two lives." There I sat one day enthusiastically responding to an email about my services, hoping to work with this new client on her summer tour. While in reality I was reclined on the couch with an icepack on my sore back also dealing with a random mystery cough (all of which I found out last week was from cancer progressing)!
Facebook is weird. It tricks our brains and affects our hormone levels. It's addictive and often misconceptional of reality. And let's face it, a lot of our friends list is made up of folks we hardly know.
It's hard to know what to do and Ive been thinking about what I'd like to gain by making my diagnosis public. I think I'd like to share my truth over worrying about getting clients. Also, this disease is so often misrepresented in the media, and it makes me so angry! The colour pink isn't doing anything for stage 4 breast cancer. I'm interested in education and activism for myself, my friends, and my community. I'm inspired by women in my community who speak their truths and advocate to save our lives. I want more of this for myself. 💪🏻👩🎓🙌
To be authentic, I want to embrace wholeheartedly my disease and limitations, while still working if that's what I choose. I've proven to myself over past few years that I can fucking do anything!!!! So why not this too - putting it out in the open.
At this point I want to pull back the curtain. I enjoy writing. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings in a way that might alleviate my burdens, but also be inspiring for others. Maybe I'll start a blog about my "journey"! Barf!!! 🤢🤢🤢 No, I have a film degree so I'll think of it more as a dark-comedy / art-house film, staring me (or Jenny Slate). Directed by Sofia Coppola or Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, (early) Danny Boyle, or Lynne Ramsay.
I've lead a rich life so far, and met a lot of people through my experiences. I feel like there are a handful of people on my friends list that I'm happy to know, and have in my life, who aren't aware of what I'm going through. Maybe this post won't even show up in their feed, maybe it will. I'll likely do a ICYMI midweek. dBut I'd like to think if they knew they'd want to support me. I still think Facebook is a weird thing, but it's also a good thing in creating connection. And I know I'll really need more of that and all the support I can get right now. 😐
If you've made it to the end of this post..: I thank you! Being vulnerable is hard, excuse me now while I go and hide under the covers."