Thursday, April 2, 2020

My Experience With COVID-19

You never know what tomorrow brings...
Just like all of us I went food shopping, bought supplies got my home in order and basically got ready for us to go into PAUSE. Luckily my husband has a job that he can work from home and my son was able to finish his second semester completely online. Being a Public Health Nurse for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene I was just waiting for the call to see where I would be placed to assist in this terrible pandemic. In the meantime I worked from home with breaks throughout the day for yoga, meditation and barre training. I could handle this, just stay positive and enjoy the time with the family, real life will again start before you know it.

Then BOOM......

DAY 1 : Body aches, chills and 101.3 fever
I told my husband I felt weird and I think I have fever. I take my temperature and of course I was correct. I did not think I had coronavirus, my first instinct was damn I just HAD to get sick in the middle of all this. Why didn't I think it was Coronavirus? Because I'm a super germaphobe. I wash my hands like no other, I'm constantly cleaning everything with lysol. Just to give an example, when we get to hotels I wipe EVERYTHING with lysol from the bathtub to the remote. My husband thinks its hilarious but appreciates it just the same. So anyway I knew it was not coronavirus.

DAY 2 : Body aches, chills and fever
No issues with breathing, just really uncomfortable. My husband suggested I call my doctor. Doctor said to give it a few days and to call back if I have any trouble breathing. He recommended tylenol and lots of fluids....

DAY 3-DAY 5: NO CHANGE! The body aches and fever never stopped. I still did not have any breathing issues or coughing so I didn't panic. I continued to rest and thought any day I should wake up and feel better...


DAY 6 : The cough begins... it started with a scratchy throat. It literally felt like sand paper when I swallowed. I was so ridiculously uncomfortable. I did not have any abnormal respiratory issues, however I did use my asthma pump a few times. This is pretty typical whenever
I get a cold or virus since I have asthma. My husband convinced me to call my doctor just in case so I did. He told me its a possibility I have coronavirus but he did not want me to go to the ER unless I had shortness of breath. He was worried I would pick up something worse or catch corona if I didn't already have it. So he sent cough medicine and asthma medication to my pharmacy and and told me to keep him posted on how I feel.

DAY 7 : Now its been an entire week and my fever finally broke. At least thats one symptom gone which makes my body feel more relaxed. I was in so much pain all week. It reminded me of how miserable I was when I was going through chemotherapy. I still have a bad cough so I'm staying away from my family. I went online and requested an appointment to get tested for COVID-19. I figured it was time.

DAY 8 : Still have my cough but no fever. I called the CDC to request a test because I haven't heard back from the first request. Since I'm not in pain anymore I decided to get up and shower to see if it helps me feel a little better. While in the shower I had a coughing fit and it scared me. I got out the shower, got dressed and walked downstairs to my living room but I couldn't catch my breath. I called for my husband and began to cry because I couldn't take a deep breath. My husband jumped into action and left a message with my doctor and asked our son pack a bag for me. the 2 of them scrambled to get things ready to get me to the hospital. While sitting there I tried to do meditation breathing to help me, it kept me a little calm however I was scared. I was scared I would be placed on a ventilator, I was scared to leave my family I was scared I was going to die. Not being able to breath is the worse feeling to ever have. I was taking very small breaths which made it impossible to even speak. I was scared.

We got to the ER within 5 minutes. It looked like we arrived to a movie set. Everyone was in full protective gear. As we walked towards the entrance a person in a hazmat suit pointed to a window. There was a lady behind the window who pushed a button to speak and asked us what was wrong. I couldn't speak so my husband answered all questions for me. She then placed 2 bracelets on me, the typical Name, DOB and MNR # and a bright orange bracelet with the date written on it. She then directed us to sit in front of a white tent. We waited for just a few minutes and then a nurse called us into the tent. I remember thinking please don't make me have to go in alone, but the nurse was nice and said he could stay with me. They took my vitals, my oxygen levels were good so they told us to just sit and wait and a doctor would see me. While sitting we watched other patients come in and explain their ailments. Some had the same symptoms as me. Others where there for other issues which you wouldn't necessarily go to an ER for, however they had no access to their doctor because offices were closed so they had no choice but to go to the ER. The nurses were great, they were overwhelmed but were very caring towards every patient that came into our tent. So while waiting, my phone rings and it turns out to be registration from inside the hospital, they ask my husband several questions and before he hangs up he asks, "Does this mean she is being admitted?" The person says that he doesn't know. Another nurse came over to me and checked my vitals again and whispered to me, "I know you had cancer are you on any treatment?" I shaked my head no and she smiled and said thats good. She then moved on to take care of others. Finally a doctor came over to exam me. She was very kind and patient. My husband explained everything to her. She checked my lungs and then told us all my symptoms and timeframe are consistent with the coronavirus. She said she's sure I have it and asked if I was in contact with anyone who tested positive. I told her I was unsure. She informed me that she understands its hard to catch my breath but I am getting enough oxygen according to the pulse ox meter so she was not going to admit me. She said if at anytime at home I feel worse to call an ambulance and have them bring me in. What I needed to do now is rest, drink lots of fluids, take my asthma meds and just wait it out. I asked her how long before I would begin to feel better and she said it would at least be another week. She said I was young and strong and I would beat it. So we went home and I went back to bed.

DAY 9 : Still unable to take deep breaths or even talk. My husband has been very strict with giving me my meds every four hours. I'm drinking fluids, lots of tea, and thankfully I still have an appetite. I have been eating well and resting. Im not better but i'm not worse so thats something!

DAY 10 : Still have coughing and shortness of breath if I move too much but I am beginning to speak more normal today. Im still really tired and sleep alot.

DAY 11 : I can take deeper breaths so thats good. I'm dying for a cup of coffee but my husband wont let me. I still have a cough so I keep my mask on all day. I'm still pretty tired so I still spend most of the time in bed. I'm going to try and take a walk to the backyard today to see how I feel. I miss the sun. BTW I called the CDC for the 3rd time requesting an appointment to be tested. I told the representative Ive been calling since last week and I was in the ER this week and I have yet to be tested. He told me there were just so many people requesting to be tested they just haven't gotten to me yet. I asked for an estimate and he said he couldn't even give me that. He mentioned people were calling for every symptom they think is corona related. People are scared.

DAY 12 : I woke up feeling better then yesterday. I've been drinking my tea and taking my cough medicine. Unfortunately as the day went on my chest started feeling tighter. Its hard to explain, as an asthmatic when I'm short of breath I can feel the wheezing and take my inhaler and feel relief. With this virus it feels like a large marble is in the center of my chest putting pressure with each inhale. No wheezing and my inhaler doesn't provide relief. Its definitely a scary feeling. Anyway I don't have body aches anymore and I'm slowly starting to get energy back. If I exert myself I do run out of breath so I'm resting and taking my time. Let's see what tomorrow brings. Good night xoxo
Almost forgot, called the cdc hotline again and I spoke to a rep who told me so many people have been calling to get tested they are overwhelmed. I told him my situation and he said all I can do is wait and I will get a call eventually.

DAY 13 : I definitely feel better then yesterday. One thing I have noticed is that I wake up feeling better then I do at the end of the day when I go bed. My chest seems to get tighter as the day goes on and I can go all day without a cough but then in the evening it comes back slightly. Nothing like when the cough began but its still there. My energy levels are up but I do get fatigued still if I do too much. I spent some time in the backyard to get some fresh air which I definitely enjoyed. Im still taking my cough meds and my asthma meds. All in all it was a good day. Still no call back to be tested.

DAY 14 : I can't believe its been exactly 2 weeks since my first symptom! I woke up feeling great. I actually got off my butt and cleaned up my kitchen even though my husband yelled at me to stop and relax the entire time. I felt the urge to lysol everything, I did keep a mask on the entire time. It felt good to do something. My husband grilled some burgers today so we spent some time in the backyard again enjoying each others company. I felt so close to normal minus the mask of course. We listened to music and even made some s'mores. Today was great. It's currently 8:20pm and I feel my chest tight again just like yesterday. It's so strange it gets worse at the end of the day. It just feels like pressure right in the center of my chest when I take a deep breath. I can't wait for that feeling to go away. Anyway, I still haven't heard back regarding being tested. At this point I'm gonna start taking bets. How have all these celebs been tested when some don't even have symptoms meanwhile I've had severe symptoms and have called several times requesting one? Guess I'm not rich enough? Maybe because I live in the Bronx? Makes you wonder just how accurate those numbers are that they share with us each day. Things that make you go hmmmmmm...... Well my people have a great evening.

DAY 15 : I JUST RECEIVED A CALL TO BE TESTED AT 1PM TODAY! I'm wondering if by now I'll test negative, which will mean I'm no longer contagious to my family. Keep you all posted!

Friday, July 5, 2019

My Big Sis

Wow so its been awhile. I was thinking about what I could write about today. I've been through so much these last few years I don't know how I'm still smiling. But that's the purpose of my blog right?  of life? Staying positive through it all. I'm trying. I'm sad but happy, disappointed but proud. But today I want to talk about by beautiful sister who I miss with all my heart.

My sister died January 2, 2019. I still cant believe it. She was beautiful, strong, inspiring, a great loving mom and titi, fun, funny, witty and my sister. Growing up we didn't live together. We have the same father but different mothers. That would make us half sister's. But we have never referred to each other as half sisters. She was my sister. As kids my dad would have us together for the weekends and we would hang out and go on family outings together. I always looked up to her. I remember as a kid she was so outgoing had tons of friends and was so beautiful. I wanted to be just like her. She would tease me alot like sisters do but was always honest and always said this is my little sister watch out for her. As we became adults we developed our own friendship and became more than sisters. We talked about everything, hung out, even with each others groups of friends. We spent alot of time together so much so we even became roommates for a short time. She was so much fun, we laughed so much together. I mean our relationship wasn't perfect we were still sisters and very different people. We did have our disagreements but we never went too long being mad at each other. We loved each other. When she became a mom I was in awe of how she handled everything. My nephew was her everything. She was a single mom and busted her butt working to provide for him. And she did an amazing job. I was so proud of her. I watched her excel at work, she worked her way up to manager and was a true boss.

Then came my pregnancy, she was there through it all supportive and understanding. A few months into my pregnancy she announced she was pregnant. I can't even express the excitement we had. We talked about how awesome it would be having kids the same age and how close they would be. when the kids were born we loved doing things together, pushing our strollers and with my adorable older nephew walking beside us. Going to the park, just hanging out, I really have some awesome memories and it was exactly what we had talked about and planned.

As years went by we remained close and shared all the ups and downs life brings. We didn't get to see each other as much as we liked just because of how life works but we talked all the time. We shared family secrets and gossip. Things you only share with your sister because your sister is the only one who gets it and always has your back. I asked her to be my sons his godmother, she was already an awesome titi but took the godmother role very seriously. Her and my son became so very close. Even through his teenage years she would pick him up to make sure she spent quality time with him, sometimes even just the two of them would go and hang out. Their relationship was just amazing.

Every birthday we would call each other and plan what we would do for each others birthday. Every year would be different depending on how we felt. Sometimes we would party it up in a club sometimes we would go out dinner and sometimes we would just chill. My sisters birthday is April 29, so in April of 2014 she said she wanted to go out to dinner so thats what we did. That day while we were having drinks and catching up she tells me she found a lump and had a biopsy done. She told me she was waiting on the results to find out if she had cancer. I remember telling her, you don't have cancer, people have lumps all the time and most of the time its benign. I could tell she was worried and we talked about it and continued to have an amazing night celebrating her birthday.

Then the results came, she had breast cancer. I couldn't believe it. Other people have breast cancer not my family. How could this be happening? But it did. I told her we would beat this. I happen to have been laid off from work shortly after so I spend most of my time at the hospital with her keeping her company through her treatments. She was so strong and positive. We talked and laughed. Some of the medicine would make her sleepy at times and we would crack up because she would start feeling high and crack jokes then she would pass out asleep. She even made treatments fun! After months of chemotherapy and a mastectomy, just like I said she would, she beat cancer. She was a true warrior. With the support of her family and her 3 amazingly strong children she did it and started her post cancer life with a whole new outlook.

A year and a half later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I got to experience first hand all that she had went through. It was a big blow to my family, I've always been very healthy, never in the hospital and now my fathers second daughter with breast cancer. Because of my big sister I had hope. Just like she beat it I was gonna beat it. I was way more stubborn then her though when it came to accepting help. She was there for me but I was so use to doing things on my own and being the one who supports everyone else that I just wanted to handle it myself. She even yelled at me told me I need to learn to accept help from others. She was right. I was stubborn. Ha! But in the end she was there for me like the big sister she was and after chemotherapy, radiation and lumpectomy I beat cancer too! Talk about following in your big sisters footsteps!

We were proud of each other. We were both survivors. We had very similar experiences and we got through it. It changed both of us. We were already strong women but we became even stronger. We thought this was it and we would now live a long happy life. We talked about our plans for the future and all we hoped to accomplish. Oh my goodness she had so many ideas on business and what she wanted to do. Sometimes I would say girl you have ANOTHER business idea and we would crack up laughing. We realized what life was really about. We can share our new outlook on life with anyone in the world but unless you have actually faced the possibility of death you would never truly understand. That's what we had most in common, we learned what was really important in this life and learned that what we thought was important actually wasn't. What I wanted most for my sister was for her to find love.  She had been in love before but I wanted her to find that true unconditional love. The one that knocks you off your feet and you know this is your true soulmate. I have that with my husband I wanted her to experience the same love. That was my wish for her.

Sometime around September 2018 my sister calls me and tells me she was admitted into the hospital because she wasn't feeling well and her blood count was low. She had been experiencing bruising all over her body and they were running tests. After countless tests they were able to find out she had leukemia. One of the side effects of chemotherapy is unfortunately leukemia, however its not extremely common. So we talked about it and I told her you will beat this just like you kicked breast cancers ass. Doctors told her she would have to start chemotherapy again. I remember she was stressed about losing her hair again and I told her, at least we already know you look hott with a baldy and we busted out into laughter. Doctors then said she needed to have an umbilical cord blood transplant and they would begin the search for the donor. She called me so happy the day she found out they found a match. I was so happy. Finally we can get past this and my sister can get back to her normal life.

Unfortunately my big sister never made it to have the transplant. She passed away January 2, 2019. I was at work that day when my father called me with the news. I couldn't breath, I couldn't think, I just collapsed at my desk and cried like I had never ever cried before in my life. I was heartbroken, I'm still heartbroken. All I wanted was to wake up from this nightmare. She is my big sister, we had plans, she just texted me last night Happy New Year and sent me a pic of her happy and all dressed up ready to party. She found love and was planning a future. She has a son in college, a son graduating high school and a little girl that all need her. It's all so unfair.

I miss my sister more than anything I've ever missed in my life. The idea that I can't send her my daily text, or call her on my lunch break to chat, or plan our next celebration hurts me to my core. I never got to tell her how much I admired her and how proud I was of her. I just hope she knows she was an inspiration to her family, her friends, her children and her little sister.
I love you sis, rest in peace.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Living life...

Well as of my last mammo I am still cancer free. Being in remission is definitely a relief but I still think about my journey everyday. I feel so blessed to have survived and be able to share my story with you guys. It's weird but I feel like it was another life. Today things are going well.

My husband and I just moved into our first home.

Our son is starting his junior year in the fall.

I decided to work this summer so I wouldn't be bored and make some extra money. And most importantly I feel great! I have most of my energy back and feel "normal" whatever that is lol.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Just a friendly update...

It’s been a awhile.  I was hoping to write weekly updates but life has been so busy. It’s a good thing. Today I’m going for my six month mammogram follow-up. I’m so nervous, I think I will be for the rest of my life. I’m sure everything is fine. I have been feeling great, much more energy since I went back to the gym. Also losing weight which is a plus!  My hair!!! OMG it is growing in full and even curlier then before. It took a while but I'm now comfortable just rocking my “fro” HA! I’ll post a pic. I’m back at work full time and loving my new job. My family is just AMAZING! I’m just happy to be alive and here to enjoy life with them.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

1/2 of my amazing support team at the 2016
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Bronx Walk

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Saying Goodbye To My Beautiful Hair

     Losing my hair was so traumatic for me. As a teen I HATED my hair. I always wanted straight silky hair like some of my friends. I relaxed, flat ironed, blow dried and of course the infamous wash and set. It wasn't until my mid 20’s I started to embrace my beautiful curls and let them flow freely. I began learning to accept me. In my 30’s I actually fell in love with my hair. I learned how to care for the curls and was able to keep it long, beautiful, free and wild. Just writing this makes me miss it so much.
     After the initial shock of having cancer I freaked out at the thought of losing my long beautiful locks. My oncologist said I would most likely lose my hair because of the type of chemo I would be taking. Oh how I cried. And I felt silly! I mean, really, I have cancer, I’m starting a battle to fight to live. TO LIVE!!! When looking at the big picture hair is the least of my problems. But I couldn't help it!!! I was so embarrassed to have these feelings. Am I really that vain and superficial? I started reading blogs written by other cancer survivors and it helped me so much to deal with these feelings. They all felt the same way! I came across an article written by an oncologist who wrote that one of the biggest stressors when a woman is diagnosed with cancer is not the diagnoses itself but the thought of losing their hair. I learned I wasn't alone. It’s just one of those things you wouldn't understand unless you have gone through it.
     Since I knew it was inevitable I decided one day to just head to the salon by myself and cut off the locks. I had the stylist chop off my waist length hair up to my chin. It was kind of cute, I can rock short hair, but I was sad to let it go. Around 2 weeks later I was washing my hair and it began. Chunks of my beautiful curls were felt falling from my fingers in the shower. I could feel that it was a lot of hair and it took me a minute to actually open my eyes and take a look. It was my biggest fear coming true. I saw chunks of my hair all over the tub. I couldn't believe it was actually happening. After my shower I started to brush my hair and more started to fall out. I called for my husband and said “look babe” He saw all the hair balled up in my hands. He was so calm. He said it was ok and that we knew it would happen. His calmness kept me calm. This went on for a couple of weeks and became so bad that I eventually stopped brushing my hair. I was basically pulling it all out myself with each stroke. Finally I had had enough. I told Phil I needed him to shave my head. So he gathered up the supplies, draped my shoulders with a towel and began giving me my first and only Mohawk! He shaved one side of my head then passed the clippers to our son who shaved the other side. It became a family bonding activity!! We laughed, took pictures and eventually shaved the last of my beautiful curls. I was sooo scared to look in the mirror. Phil stared at me, laughed and said you have a perfectly round head! Haaa!! I built up the courage, looked in the mirror and with a sigh of relief said “oh my god! I do!...Thank god!!!!

Monday, August 8, 2016


Chemotherapy effects everyone differently. Some patients have very little side effects, some have all the side effects possible and some fall in between. I personally had a terrible experience with chemo. It made me extremely nauseous, weak, tired and just sick to my stomach. I had 6 cycles of chemo which for me consisted of the following:

Day 1 - Taxotere and Carboplatin
Day 2 - Herceptin and Perjeta and hydration
Day 3 – IV Hydration
Day 4 – IV Hydration and Neupogen shots at home
Day 5 - IV Hydration and Neupogen
Day 6 – Neupogen
Day 7 – Neupogen
Day 8 - Neupogen
Day 9 – Herceptin and appointment with oncologist and blood test.
Days 10 – 14 No treatment
Day 15 – No treatment
Day 16 – Herceptin
Days 17- 21 No treatment
Then the cycle would start over again.

On the first day of the cycle I would receive iv meds at the treatment center from 9am until about 5pm. Yes all day, crazy right? My husband or mom would spend the entire day with me. They made sure I was never alone and if they couldn't make it because of work I would have one of my amazing friends with me. We would order breakfast…lunch…and talk. My mom would always talk to me about work and future plans. She always kept me distracted. It was nice to have all those hours of one on one time with her. My husband would talk to me about our son, work, and the places we would visit when this was all done. He kept my spirits up and went out of his way to make me laugh. These talks with them were the best part of chemo. By the end of the day the medications would have me a bit tired so they would take me home and I would sleep.

Day 2 I would go back to the treatment center for a half day of meds. I would still pretty much feel okay, just a little tired. It would be another day of wonderful chats with my loved ones. I was usually done around 2pm and I would go home and sleep some more.

Day 3 I would begin to feel the side effects of the chemo. The nausea!! OMG I can’t even explain how horrible it was. It was 50 times worse then any nausea I’ve ever felt while sick. I couldn't eat or drink, all I wanted to do was sleep and cry. I will never forget that feeling. I would tell myself , ‘if you just sleep, when you wake up you will feel better.’ I would take naps, wake up, feel worse and end up in tears again. Phil would bring me different concoctions he made to help the nausea. I took several medications meant to help but it didn't do much. The doctor did tell me the medications were actually working because if they weren't I would be vomiting instead. So I guess it did prevent that.  The fatigue was also terrible. I was so exhausted and it didn't matter how much I slept or rested. I always felt like I just finished running a marathon. The nausea and severe fatigue would last about a week but it was the longest week ever. I remember thinking, why did I have to go through this? What did I do to deserve this torture?

There was one day I really wanted to take a shower. I felt like a shower would make me feel better. About a minute after I entered the shower, I began to feel dizzy and couldn't breath, I slouched over in the tub and felt like I was about to pass out. I screamed for my husband who ran to the bathroom and rescued me from falling over. He carried me to the bed and laid me down. I remember my finger tips starting to become numb, then my hands, then my arms, I couldn't breath and my heart was beating what felt like a hundred times too fast. My husband called my mom who lives around the corner and said he was taking me to the hospital. My brother showed up instantly to take care of our son. I was so scared for him. I tried to act as though I was ok as we walked to the car because I didn't want Bam to be scared. I kept reassuring him that I would be fine and it was just the medicine making me feel sick. I can’t imagine what was going through his mind watching his mom being rushed to the hospital.
After meeting with several doctors examining my lungs, heart, blood…turns out I was extremely dehydrated. From that day on my doctor scheduled me to receive iv hydration treatments daily for 4 days after each chemo. So at the beginning of every cycle I was at the treatment center everyday for a week.

I wouldn't begin to start feeling a little better until about 7-8 days later. That's when I would go back to work and try to keep busy. By the third week of the cycle I would feel like myself again but would become anxious because I knew the following week I would have chemo again and the cycle would start all over. I had to go through this for 6 cycles which was about 5 months.

Looking back I still can’t believe I went through that experience. I cried so much during those 5 months. Every cycle I would say I can’t take it anymore I just want this to be over. My husband would always tell me “you are almost done, only 4 more to go… 3 more to go…. 2 more to go…”  I would look at my son and I knew I had to get through this for him. He needs his mom. And I did. I completed all 6 cycles and had an amazing outcome. There were bad days and there were not so bad days but it worked! The chemo shrunk my tumor so much that it couldn't even be felt anymore.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

This Hair!!!!!

I have a consultation tomorrow with a hair stylist to get hair extensions. I'm super excited. My hair is growing fast but not fast enough! She has a special line of extensions for women who have very short hair. Hopefully I will like them and start to feel a little more like myself. If I do like them I'll post her website on tomorrow's post.


I loved Jessica! The consult was awesome! Her extensions felt so comfortable and looked great. I'm definitely going to place an order. She gave me great ideas and listened to all my ideas. I showed her a pic of how I would like my hair to look and she assured me she could achieve that look. She matched my natural brown hair color perfectly and will be able to create a balayage style with a blonde color I picked out. She said it would take about a week to create. I'm excited to have hair again! I'll post before and after pics as soon as I get them. Check out her website by googling Hair Extensions NYC.

I LOVE my extensions. I have been wearing them for 3 weeks now and they have become a part of me! They are very comfortable, nothing like a wig. It basically feels like I just have some clips in my hair. I'm able to style it and curl it just like my own hair. The color Jessica dyed it is absolutely gorgeous and she cut them to a beautiful length! The best part is that my hair always looks fabulous!

Thank you Jessica!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Radiation Oncology Follow-up

Today was my first followup appointment with my radiation oncologist. He says I'm doing great! I don't need to see him for another six months. Then once a year for 25 years he joked. Ha! He says my surgeon will be contacting me to schedule a mammogram within the next month or two. I then went upstairs for my weekly Herceptin and Perjeta treatments. My new schedule is every 3 weeks instead of weekly. I'm soooooo happy, what will I do with the extra time! Ha!


     Fast forward to today, it has been 10 months since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. How am I doing? I’m okay. I completed 6 cycles of chemotherapy, had a lumpectomy, finished 40 rounds of radiation and I’m still having my weekly iv treatments of Herceptin and Perjeta. My cancer responded well to the chemo and although I’m not officially cancer free I feel positive I will be.

     I’m still fatigued a lot of the time but I’m trying my best to get back to “normal” and enjoying life with my loved ones. I am blessed with a strong circle of family and friends. They all did a part to help me through these last 10 months and I love and appreciate every single one of them. I’m extremely independent and try to get through obstacles on my own but there is NO WAY I could have done this alone. It took me a while to realize this and except help. I know I can be very stubborn but I have grown so much from this experience.

     My husband has been AMAZING. He stepped up, took charge of me, the family, the household. He cooked, he cleaned, he never missed an appointment and alternated with my mom accompanying me to chemo. Sometimes they were both there. You never really know how strong your relationship is until you are tested with a real hardship. I love him soooo much. This man is my best friend and taught me what it truly means to be in a marriage, and I’m grateful everyday to have him as my partner in life.

     My son is doing great. All of this came during his first year of high school and although it was tough he made it through. We shared everything with him right before I started chemo and explained all the side effects and that I would be fine. Telling him was one of the hardest things we had to do. He was so strong and positive. He told me I would be fine and he would take care of me. With the love and support of our family and friends he’s himself again and I am so proud of him.

My Diagnosis & Plan

October 22, 2015

I have Stage 1
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)
Triple Positive (ER+, PR+, HER2+)
Breast Cancer

What does that mean?
I have an aggressive but common form of breast cancer.  It started in the milk ducts and has spread out into the surrounding tissues.
ER+ and PR+ means my cancer cells contain estrogen and progesterone receptors which means these hormones can actually help the cancer grow.
HER2+ means my cancer cells contain a protein called HER2 which can cause the cancer to grow and spread aggressively.

Bad news? I have cancer, its aggressive but ….good news? It was caught early and I have a form that responds well to anti-estrogen therapy, biologic targeted therapy and chemotherapy.

So what’s the plan?

6 Cycles of Chemotherapy (1 cycle consists of 3 weeks)
52 Doses of Targeted Therapy (IV meds, weekly for 1 year)
Surgery - Lumpectomy
40 Radiation Treatments (daily for 40 days)
Maintenance Anti-Estrogen Medication for 5-7 years (daily pill)

My Oncology Team - The Oncologist

October 22, 2015

The following day we had an appointment with an oncologist. As we do, we googled and researched him all day and all night. We read nothing but positive reviews about this doctor and couldn't believe he was at the cancer center a few blocks away. He has been in his field for many years and very well respected.

I still say it was meant for us to live where we do, I passed this center everyday not knowing one day I would be a patient there.

We walk in and were greeted with smiles. The staff was very friendly and made us feel comfortable. After a short wait we are called in and we patiently wait for the doctor to enter the room. He walks in with a friendly smile introduces himself and shakes our hands. He examines me and then tells us to meet him in his office. He explains my diagnosis, his recommendations, and how good my prognosis was. He took his time and explained everything so we could fully understand. We felt comfortable asking him questions and he happily answered every question completely and honestly. I felt like we were there for hours. We said our goodbyes and when we get outside I ask the husband what he thinks of him. He felt he was knowledgeable, well respected, patient and compassionate. I agreed. We made our decision that this would be our Oncology team.

My Oncology Team - The Surgeon

October 21, 2015  

     My primary referred us to a breast surgeon and got us an appointment the following day. We googled and researched this doctor for hours hoping she would be the best doctor for us. She was in a tiny medical building 2 blocks from our house. We walked inside and I was transported into another place. It was colorful and bright. It was set up as a home, furniture was so cute with different types of chairs set up to be inviting and not like a waiting room. Along with all the artwork and pictures representing strength were all of her awards and accolades. There were tons. My husband and I were very impressed. The staff was warm and greeted us with smiles. After a short wait we finally met with Dr Shapiro and we instantly felt a connection. She explained how sorry she was about my diagnosis, examined me and began explaining her recommendations. She took her time answering all our questions and we walked out feeling like we got this!

Monday, August 1, 2016

I Have Breast Cancer - October 20, 2015

     They still haven’t called. Should I call? Should I wait? Its Monday, I’m at work, trying to keep busy. Later in the day we get a message from the doctor to call him back. I wanted my husband and I to be together when we receive the results---just in case. I had to work late this day so the plan was when we get home from work tomorrow we will call him back. Well now it's the morning and I tell him lets just have a conference call because there is no way I can wait until the end of the day. I’m sure it’s nothing anyway, there’s no way I have cancer. He’s hesitant but agrees. I don't have any patients to see for the next hour so I lock myself in my office with my co-worker. We call my husband and conference the doctor in…

     “Hello Mrs. Berrocales, I’m sorry to have to tell you this but the biopsy shows a malignancy. You do have breast cancer.” 

     I felt like I was in a movie, this wasn't real. He said so much more but Charlie Brown's teacher took over the phone call and all I heard was wah wah wah. I didn't cry, I was just numb. He kept talking and after all the wah wah wah’s I asked “What do I do now?” He tells me to contact my primary and that I need a breast surgeon and oncologist. We thank the doctor and he hangs up. My husband is still on the phone and he says “I’m leaving right now I’ll meet you at home.” I turn and look at my coworker, start to cry as she hugs and consoles me. I leave work and drive home. 

     Is this for real? Do I really have cancer? How the hell do I have cancer? I can’t believe this? How am I going to tell Bam? My poor baby has to see his mom with cancer. What if it has spread? I could die. I don't even remember driving, it’s like I left work and magically appeared home. My husband arrived a few minutes after me and all we could do was hold each other...