I am a two-time survivor of 12 years, and I’m very happy to say I am 7 years out from my recurrence and sincerely hope that we took care of it completely the second time. My first diagnosis was early stage, and I had a lumpectomy and two re-excisions. I was followed closely with twice yearly exams for 4.5 years, and then we found a more aggressive cancer that had been growing silently the whole time. I ended up having a mastectomy and axillary node dissection which turned up 5 positive lymph nodes of the 15 they took out. Chemotherapy, a second mastectomy, and failed reconstruction followed with intensive fat grafting and eventually a double TUG flap reconstruction in Seattle from 2013-14 led to “new” breasts made out of my inner thigh muscles, and throughout the entire experience, I relied heavily on Handful to keep me comfortable and confident!
I never knew how much I was loved until I had cancer. Friends came out of the woodwork to send encouraging notes, presents, and inspiration. One colleague crocheted me a blanket. Another former colleague and long-time friend took a bedsheet and had it decorated with positive words and pictures to cheer me on during chemo -- she had read my update that I hated the old chairs at my oncology treatment room and brought my own sheet to chemo each time. Another friend dropped off a little gift bag, including a magnet that said, “Just when the caterpillar thought his life was over…he became a butterfly.” I know that’s a well-known quote, but it has stuck with me all of these years...
Everything changed from my life before cancer to now. My new normal is so different. I appreciate EVERY thing, big or small that brings joy or is loving or funny or beautiful. I love my husband, dog, and my friends and family with a depth I could not have known before. I think I also have come to fear death less, but let’s check in on that when it’s actually time!
I plan to fill my life outside of my career with hiking, working out, kayaking, walking my dog, dancing, gardening, cooking, and living life to the fullest! And from work to adventures, my Handful bras will be there to support me.