It is not without some anxiety that after so many years I am finally relating my journey with cancer. It was the best and by far the worst year of my life, and truthfully I don’t know how I survived 2006. I feel some of this is best explained in a cliff notes version, so here it goes.
April 8, 2006 – married an amazing man at 26 years of age.
June 26, 2006 – had an excisional biopsy of a lump I had had for at least a year. The procedure came after several ultrasounds and a consult with a breast surgeon who told me it was a benign lump and not to worry. The procedure confirmed a malignant tumor. It was BREAST CANCER.
July 30, 2006 – My mom passed from breast cancer. She had survived 6 years after her diagnosis.
August 2006 – Buried my mom on a Monday and started chemotherapy that Thursday.
October 16, 2006 – Father passed away in his sleep from what I feel was a broken heart.
All of this was followed by 2 funerals, 2 eulogies written by me, several rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy, 5 years of tamoxifen, depression, infertility fears, and a negative BRCA test, all while adjusting to being a newlywed. I was paralysed by the fact that I had no answers. What did I do wrong? Why me? Why my family? What was my intended path? What am I supposed to learn from this? The questions and obsession over wanting answers went on and on and consumed me. Eventually I started to accept that I may never know and that the only thing I have control of is myself. I decided to make my personal health and wellness a priority because those were the choices I could control.
Once I completed tamoxifen, my husband and I started trying for a family. It was 6 months of tears and fears that it may never happen, until it happened. The level of happiness I had was indescribable, but with it came new fears. I pressed on with eating right, exercise, acupuncture, meditation, but I never looked at my cosmetics. I met with my oncologist in 2012 and told her I wanted to try for another baby. She said she wanted to see it happen within 6 months and if it hadn’t, we needed to move on. Two months later I became pregnant with another daughter. I believe that g-d would not have blessed me with two beautiful babies if I wasn’t intended to be with them.
Losing my mom was so painful it was almost worse than a cancer diagnosis. I pressed on with my journey doing anything and everything I could to live a clean life. Although science hasn’t been able to identify a genetic link in my DNA, that doesn’t stop my fears that I’ve passed this on to my girls.
I believe that something in my environment “awakened” the cancer beast in my body. It was something unnatural that lead to toxicity and cancer cell growth. Maybe it was stress, maybe it was diet, maybe it was the many chemicals that were in my deodorant, shampoo, makeup, etc.
I hope to help educate others about our daily exposure to toxic chemicals. It’s my attempt to use my experiences to help others. I have never felt comfortable talking about my journey because it typically causes a sad, sickening feeling in my stomach. Perhaps my mission is the perfect avenue for me to finally do that. I’m ready to share my story.
by Yana Moreland