What a difference a year makes! Last September at this time, I was full of nerves about doing the Pink O Course, a 10km, 30 obstacle race benefiting Rethink Breast Cancer. It seemed the perfect way to honour the many family and friends who I have lost to breast cancer, but also and incredible challenge for me personally because I am a breast cancer survivor.
I'll be honest, the Pink O Course was no easy feat. But I got through it, just like I got through my cancer treatments, with my husband and kids cheering me all along the way.
Believe it or not, I was really excited to do the Pink O Course again this year because it marks an important cancer milestone for me -- eight years cancer free! But, because of yet another surgery (yes, I'm still dealing with reconstruction eight years on) my doctors won't let me.
Eight years ago I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. My mom had passed away from breast cancer the year before so I was really scared when I found the lump. I had an ultrasound, mammogram and biopsy and at the end of September 2005 my diagnosis was confirmed. I was 37 years old, had a great job, a wonderful husband, and two young kids, six and four years old. One week later I was in hospital having a bilateral mastectomy. That was followed by chemotherapy.
The type of breast cancer I was diagnosed with is called Triple Negative. This means it doesn't respond to the hormones or known proteins they treat in other types of breast cancer, so they really have no idea how it grows. Basically, when you're finished surgery, chemo, and radiation you're kind of out there just hoping and praying it doesn't come back. It is also indicative of the BRCA1 genetic mutation which I subsequently found out I have. Because of this mutation, my risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer is a lot higher than most people. By having the bilateral mastectomy I had done everything I could to reduce the breast cancer risk, so my next step was to have a prophylactic oophorectomy to eliminate the risk of ovarian cancer. I'd already had my wonderful kids so this was an easier decision for me than for many others. Since then I've done many reconstruction surgeries hopefully ending with the most recent.
The other characteristic of Triple Negative breast cancer is that you're at a higher risk for recurrence for eight years, compared to the five year mark for other types of breast cancer. The risk (and the fear) of recurrence never goes away completely for anyone though, I don't think.
While I am gutted not to be able to run while carrying a "rifle," crawl through the mud, try to climb a rope, lift buckets full of sand, and drag cement bricks through mud and water again this year, I have instead convinced my kids to do it for me!
Evelyn (12) and Aidan (10) are my amazing kids who are giving up a Saturday morning sleep-in to complete the Kids O Course and raise funds for Rethink Breast Cancer. Their team 'The Young Ones' is certain to hit its target of raising $2,000. I'm so impressed with them and proud of them for doing this. They have been my inspiration and my hope through the last eight years and will always continue to be so. This year it'll be me on the sidelines cheering them on.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Inside Wild Water Kingdom - 7855 Finch Ave W Brampton, ON L6T 0B2
Starts at 10:00 a.m.