I remember it perfectly: It was December 28, 2016 - two days after my biopsy for a lump I found (four months after a clean mammogram). The phone rang. I figured it was just the hospital calling with their routine follow up.
“Hi Jessica, it’s Dr. N, how are you feeling?”
"Sore. Very sore” I said.
“It’s not unusual, do you mind if I give you the results of your biopsy?”
"Of course,” I said, knowing full well it wasn’t good - it never is when the doctor was calling with results.
“I am so sorry, but it is cancer”.
From there, it was weeks of doctor’s appointments and decision making. I drug it out as long as I could, but finally had to decide. I chose a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. With that decision came an automatic 16 rounds of chemotherapy over 20 weeks, and if it was in my lymph nodes, then there would be radiation as well. The only positive news, it wasn’t in my lymph nodes. Chemo is a beast like no other: I had to have 4 rounds of what is known as the "red devil", every other week for 8 weeks. On my second treatment my hair fell out. I was devastated.
It hurt. Physically and emotionally.
For 20 weeks (more like 35), I would spend each morning crying in the shower because I was in so much pain, I’d pull it together so I could go to work. I needed to work - I did not really have a choice: life and bills do not stop. I managed to somehow hold it together most of the day with a few minor meltdowns, usually a short cry in the bathroom until I got home. Once I was home, I’d cry on and off again; there is no relief to this pain and side effects. Body aches, muscle
aches, headaches, fatigue, anxiety, hot flashes, ovary aches, pain from my mastectomy,
changes in my vision, pressure behind my eyes and in my sinuses. My wig created pressure - adding to the headaches. I’d take it off as soon as I got home, but I was never ready to be
without it in the real world.
Sleeping? There wasn’t much of that - which didn’t help. My moods would swing like a pendulum, as hard as I tried to contain them - I couldn’t. Going through this has a life changing effect; it has been a long and many times dark road.
Sometimes you feel forgotten...
...especially once you are done with the treatments. In the beginning, so many offer support; then it slowly fades until there is just a few tried and true people still being your support system. Cancer leaves you broken; you are now part of a (sadly) growing group that you never wanted to be a part of, but also has given you strength to draw from. I did this for 20 weeks; then it was time to start to rebuild my life.
Near the end of my treatment, I found out my husband had been unfaithful. We tried for
almost a year to make it work; we could not. After 17 years and 2 children together, my husband and I decided to end our marriage. Time to rebuild.
I moved into my own house, and it was the first time in my life I had ever had my very own place. Life seemed to be going well. Enter Christopher: a rare and beautiful gift that brought happiness,
joy, light, and a lot of love to my life - things I had been missing for a long time. He is kind,
smart, generous, strong, and gorgeous. He makes me melt, laugh and smile again; he is my rock
and best friend. Things with him are easy and natural, and I loved every moment with him. He
taught me to embrace the scars and stretch marks and made me start to love my body. It was for
him I wanted to do this photo shoot - to say thank you for teaching me to love myself. Since the
moment he came into my life, I wanted him to be my last first kiss. It is his baseball jersey I
wore the day of my session. It is one of my favorite pictures.
My relationship with Christopher has recently ended which has left me heartbroken and
devastated. He is the one, my soulmate, my rock, my forever, he holds my heart. I have no
idea what the future holds for us, but there will always be a place for him in it. Time to rebuild.
On February 24th of 2019, Chad, my soon to be ex-husband and the father of my two sons, was
killed in a snowmobiling accident. There are no words to describe what we went through and what my sons continue to go through. Time to rebuild.
My boudoir photo shoot with Sugar and Spice Photography:
I was nervous but excited to do these photos. I can honestly say: I have never felt so beautiful,
comfortable and empowered as I did that day. My body, holy s#*t! It looked stunning and gorgeous. I felt amazing!
I was transformed into pure beauty.
The last few years have been filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, heartache and
elation, sadness and happiness. I would not choose to experience most of this ever again and I
am definitely not the same person I was when I got the call in 2016, and I am not sure how I could be.
I have shed layers and grown new ones. I have let friendships go and made new stronger
ones. I have lost my hair and eyelashes, and at times my sense of identity, but found strength I
never knew I had. I have been on what I felt like was on the doorstep of death after chemo.
Cancer is a hell like no other. I am rebuilding, becoming the most amazing version of me that
the world has yet to see because...
...hope anchors the soul. Hebrews 6:19
The verse you included about hope really hit home, and we know so many other women need some hope right now.
The Message version of Hebrews 6:18-19 says this: "We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It is an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God." And it's in HIS presence that we find fullness of joy and peace that passes all understanding!
Thank you for sharing your story...with all the joy, heartbreak and pain. We are praying for you & are so proud that you ARE strong enough to become an even m