Update: October 6, 2020
If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably been wondering how Heather is doing since we first published her wonderful essay about being diagnosed with breast cancer during a global pandemic.
We checked in with her and she was in fantastic spirits: “I finished chemotherapy in July, had a double mastectomy in August, and I start radiation next week (every day for 6 weeks – 30 rounds). Talk about a fun 2020!!!” She wanted to send a reminder to you Mavens as well which is “Don’t forget to get your tits checked out!!!”
Heather is also taking part in the upcoming Stars of Pink Fashion Show benefiting the Pink Ribbon Connection one of the models. The event will be a virtual viewing party this year and you can get all the details here.
I’ve got to be real here. When Rachel Hickey (Indy Maven’s social media guru) reached out to me about being featured on the site, I definitely questioned why anyone would want to know me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was (and am) super flattered, but for the past couple of years I’ve been out of “the scene.” I guess you could say that I was socially distancing myself from everyone after I parked my fashion truck (Retro101) and launched my fashion tech startup that, well, failed to launch. Yep, I was hiding out because I was really trying to work on myself and figure out what the next chapter of my life could be.
But I found a new drive and started to do all the things that I ever wanted to do—tap class, stand-up comedy, selling my art, and learning how to DJ. But it turns out my next chapter was already decided for me: I got cancer.
Little did I know back in August, that my newfound obsession with music would become my therapy and motivation.
You see, I was supposed to have my first gig as DJ Trophy Wife on March 28 but that never happened because I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer just weeks earlier. (Well, that and the local music scene had ground to a halt thanks to the coronavirus.) The universe certainly had my back because if I would not have gone to get a mammogram then, I would have never started treatment, and… well, I don’t even want to go there.
Leave it to me to turn 45 and start going through chemo during a worldwide pandemic. I didn’t even have time to get a second opinion because I was afraid that if I didn’t start treatment as soon as possible everything would be further delayed. So, after meeting with the breast surgeon, I moved forward with the recommended oncologist and a treatment plan.
Unfortunately, I have had to go to all my chemotherapy treatments and doctor appointments by myself because of the pandemic. I’m pretty sure I’ve only retained about 25 percent of the information that’s been given to me, so I have had to rely on taking notes, recording conversations, and having my husband listen over the phone. I definitely felt nervous and scared walking into my first treatment alone. I still do, but I try to take the time during those three hours to catch up on texts.
When I get home is when the isolation really starts—not only for me, but for my family as well. Selfishly, I am at ease knowing that my family is around me at all times and that I am not missing out on anything. I guess if I can’t go watch my kid play baseball, then no one can, right? Joking aside, I am a part of the “vulnerable” demographic that needs to be overly cautious about social distancing and wearing face masks. I appreciate everyone who is taking this pandemic seriously and adhering to the social distancing rules and wearing masks in public because even after our communities start to go “back to normal,” my new normal for myself (and family) will never be the same.
I am trying my best to keep a positive attitude and not fall into the trap of asking “Why me?” I’m changing that internal dialogue to be “Why not me?” You see, I have dense breasts—nearly half of all women over 40 can say the same. During a regular mammogram, cancer is more likely to go undetected in these women. I am one of them and you could be, too.
Although I am at the beginning of my journey, to say that I am learning (and questioning) a lot about breast cancer is an understatement. How did I not know to ask for additional screening since I have dense breasts? Why didn’t I think to ask for my images for every mammogram that I had so even if my insurance refused an ultrasound or MRI, I could still potentially have a medical worker within my circle review? Why wasn’t any support group or basic materials given to me to help me navigate how to tell my two sons that their mom has breast cancer?
I plan on getting answers to all of my questions in hopes that other women with dense breasts will be encouraged to be their own advocate which could potentially save their life. Therefore, I encourage everyone to not put off getting your mammogram—even during this time. If you have dense breasts, try to start getting your yearly mammogram earlier. I so wish I would have asked my OB/GYN if I had dense breasts long ago so I could see if I could start getting a mammogram at age 35 to get a good baseline which could have helped abnormalities be detected.
I’ve been blogging via my personal What Friends Do site which has been a great platform for me to keep my friends and family updated on treatments and wait for it… ask for help (like meals for my family and items on my own Amazon wish list); however, I’ve been getting way too many signs (thanks, Indy Maven!) that I needed to start an official blog that everyone can see. I hope to share not only my breast cancer journey, but my revolution into being the person I’ve always wanted to be so I can encourage others to do the same.
I invite all of my fellow Indy Mavens to check out at www.djtrophywife.com and join me for DJ Trophy Wife’s virtual house party that I started doing via Facebook Live. And remember, shoulders Back—TITS UP.