Laughing Helps Me Feel Normal
LA resident Stephanie was first diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2011 when she was 43 with stage 3b. She elected to do a lumpectomy and nine weeks of radiation, the surgery was one week after her 44th birthday. She was cancer free until August 2017 (age 49) when she was diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer in the same breast and same area. She tested negative for the BRCA genes as cancer runs on her mom's side of the family. She did a first round of chemo from September to November 2017 and a single mastectomy in December 2017 due to the tumor growing at a fast rate. She is about to start round 2 of chemo in February 2018. She's electing reconstructive surgery later this year.
I'm currently battling my second occurrence of breast cancer and had to do chemo and a mastectomy this time around since the cancer came back. It's been a much harder journey than my first time around. During my first cancer journey, I numbed myself and didn't tell many people what I was going through and worked at my job during the entire process. That was how I coped with having cancer.
With this recent reoccurrence, I'm different and feel different. I'm more open, honest and upfront about my cancer because I wanted people to understand better what it's like to go through something as hard as cancer is and say it as honestly as I could without sugar coating it. I started posting on my social media accounts about my current journey and have had amazing support, encouragement and love from people all over the world. I feel so blessed.
My funny moments during my current journey of having breast cancer for the second time has made me laugh during times when I just wanted to cry and felt sad. Believe me, funny things still happen even though you may be battling cancer. It's how we look at things and give it perspective. I experienced many of these funny moments during chemo and it was due to chemo brain fog.
The first funny moment I had was when I was trying to place a lid back on a container after eating dinner and I had a hard time putting it on. It just wouldn't fit no matter which way I turned it or how many times I tried. I must have tried for 10 minutes before my sister came to help me. She looked at the lid and said "you had the lid upside down and that's why it wouldn't go back on." Oh gosh, how dumb did I feel. We laugh hard about that.
Another time was when I was going to toast a bagel for breakfast and I stood there for a while and couldn't figure out if you put the bagel up or down on the toaster oven. I finally placed it down on the rack. After it was done and I took it out, I told myself that wasn't right, I never put it face down. Doh, brain fog strikes again!
My most recent funny moment happened in December 2017 when I was in NYC with my sisters. We had just seen Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and was walking down the street when a gust of wind came out of nowhere. I was walking in front of my sisters when it happened, I placed my hands on top my head to hold down my wig and said to my sisters, "catch my wig if it flies away!" We had a big laugh about that one and it helps because I still don't feel comfortable having to wear a wig since I've lost my hair to chemo.
I've always been a goofball and I love to joke around and laugh. I didn't want cancer to change me where I'd lose that. I'm glad I can still laugh and joke around because that is what helps me feel normal.