Something has been weighing very heavily on my heart since Monday and I just got the okay to blog about it. What good is a blog about my life if I can't talk about something this important?
On Friday, March 14 one of my best friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is only 26 years old and does not have a family history of cancer. Cancer---one of the scariest words in the human dictionary---is supposed to be something that affects those much older than us. Not that advanced age makes this diagnosis any easier, but it just seems incredibly unfair. Why Keri? Why now?
So many questions and so little time. Where do I even begin?
Keri has been diagnosed with invasive carcinoma of her right breast. The doctors will conduct genetic testing to discover the source of this disease, and if it is genetic she has a high risk of ovarian cancer as well. Her sister would need to be tested and any future children would also run a risk of these genes.
There is no other option but for a total mastectomy. As if that isn't enough of a blow, Keri will undergo a double mastectomy on April 2 to eliminate the chance of recurrence in the healthy breast. Keri, someone who has always been known for her perfectly perky boobies and characteristic curly hair, will have to say goodbye to a part of her body. I cannot even begin to imagine what this loss will feel like for her, or for anyone else in her position.
They don't know if she will need chemotherapy or radiation. They don't know if the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes. But if chemo is required, Keri will need infertility treatments to freeze her eggs for future children. And she'd obviously say goodbye to her "Keri curls."
She will opt for bilateral reconstruction which takes an entire year to achieve, and will certainly be a surreal healing experience in itself. Keri will be forced to take large amounts of time off from her job as a PT as she recovers from multiple surgeries, which means a lot of downtime to think and analyze---something we both love to do:) And although thankfully, most of these medical treatments will be covered by her insurance, she will still experience some financial strain as well. Cancer definitely affects every single aspect of your life, huh?
All of these facts combined are enough to shut down your brain. It's difficult for me to wrap my mind around all of this because it's happened so incredibly fast and now her life will be forever changed. Heck, everyone close to Keri will be changed. It's hard not to get philosophical when life's fragility hits you square in the face. Wake up call, indeed.
She found this lump on her own and had the courage to make the doctor's appointment for inspection. As a fellow hypochondriac I'm sure that was a difficult decision because how many times have we convinced ourselves that "It's nothing, I'm sure it's all in my head and will go away soon"? Kudos to Keri for being mature enough to face this cancer---I'm not sure I would be as strong.
I'm not writing this to depress you or to scare you [although it definitely depresses and scares the hell out of me!]. I'm posting about this because I know Keri would appreciate words of wisdom, bits of encouragement, and just to have moral support in this frightening time of her life. Keri is loved by all but every little bit helps, right? Even virtual support from total strangers.
I'm sure many of you have been affected by cancer in some way or another. Well, I know for a fact some of you have seen a loved one go through this same type of thing. What has helped you survive your darkest moments?
Because right now I'm thinking a good old fashioned hug would do the trick but with 700 miles separating us, I'm dealing with limited resources. I see a trip to Kansas in my future:)