It’s Sofi here. Although we’re genetically the same person, we’re not EXACTLY the same person. You don’t really know who I am. But you will. I am the future you. I am the you who has conquered the big C, baby. The new and improved, breast-less you.
I haven’t stopped crying and marveling at the year that was 2018. The year that challenged, that was unkind and that questioned everything we’ve ever known. I feel some what nostalgic and weirdly excited as I am about to give you an insight into just how you can and will kick cancers ass, girlfriend. It’s a blessing in a hideous disguise, I promise you.
I know you’re scared but I can reassure you that you’re a bloody warrior and you will walk into 2019 with a whole new perspective and appreciation for life if you go into the next 8 months with an open heart and open mind. I won’t go too much into detail about all the events that will occur over the next 8 months or so but instead, just give you some reassurance and a little guidance. Before I get started I just want to say I am so incredibly proud of you!! Are you ready to hear all about it? Ah I don’t even know where to begin but lets do it.
The early months of 2018 were going really good, weren’t they? Things are great at home, you just signed a 12 month lease, you’re happy, you have just gotten a promotion at work and you even have a great vodka/water and nightlife/stay at home balance. YAY! But today is 24/04/2018 and you have been told by your now new Dr. that you have Grade 3 invasive breast cancer.
Thinking back, I really can’t remember a lot about the day you’ve just had. I know Mum, Dad and Joe all came to the appointment. The appointment was some time in the mid kinda morning and your new breast care nurse was present. As the Dr. read a whole bunch of mambo jumbo words from last weeks test results; everything and everyone around you sat there quietly. Not saying a word as they didn’t want to interrupt the Dr. anxiously anticipating every word that came out of her mouth. She didn’t go on for too long before finally saying out loud the dreaded words. That the test results were positive and consistent with breast carcinoma and that you in fact have Grade 3 invasive breast cancer.
When she had finally said it, you became numb. Your mind went into a frenzy but you remained silent. I distinctively remember that feeling. You didn’t cry when she told you, instead you just nodded and said OK in response to everything she was relaying to you. You didn’t want to say anything and tried to avoid eye contact with everyone else in the room as you knew exactly what that could have triggered. You were doing so great until the Dr. paused and somebody in the room asked if you were OK… you weren’t OK. We weren’t OK.
I know you’re terrified and thinking how in the world you’re going to cope with this monster card you’ve just been dealt. You haven’t cried too much yet, but you will. There will be plenty of tears in the months to come. You have already been booked in for your mastectomy next Monday 30/04/18 and been given a brief run down of preventative treatment that will happen later on down the track. You’re going to change your mind a couple of times over the next couple of days and question whether or not surgery and preventative treatment is the right thing for you. There are other options but this is the most suitable for you right now and for your future. Stop googling! Stop freaking yourself out about what’s next. Just slow down and take it one step at a time. Focus on what is right in front of you, you will have plenty of time to google. Surgery is on Monday, just focus on that. You’re about to lose a boob, don’t mourn it, celebrate it! You love a good party. Throw a party to celebrate your right boobs 23 years of life!
After your mastectomy you will undergo another surgery to clear your lymph nodes out. The cancer did spread to them but thankfully there are no signs that it spread to anywhere else in your body. You have stage 3 cancer. Such a close call, but you caught it just in time. Recovery from the lymph node removal is pretty straight forward and easy. As I said I wont go too much into detail, but following surgery you will have 2 x egg retrieval procedures, 16 rounds of chemotherapy and 5 weeks of radiation. It all sounds like a lot and it is but hang in there through it all. Be patient. This is all necessary for your future. For our future. You are doing everything you can so that we can afterwards live a hopeful and meaningful life. THANK YOU!
You will be confused for a while and occasionally wonder why you; why it is you who has to deal with this nasty disease. Find the courage not to dwell on that thought; instead think about just how lucky you are that the diagnosis is not any worst. You’re such an over thinker and negative thoughts tend to way you down easily. Don’t let the thoughts take over you, it’s too bloody draining. Focus on all the good in your life. Stay positive and count your blessings, you have so many of them! Positive thoughts manifest positive outcomes. You have always believed that everything happens for a reason. Bit bloody wild to believe this has happened for a reason hey? I think I know what the reason is. But I’ll let you figure that out for yourself, I won’t spoil the fun too much.
You will kind of go through your own version of the ‘7 stages of grief.’
- Shock & Denial
- Pain & Guilt
- Anger & Bargaining
- The Upward Turn
- Reconstruction & working through
- Acceptance & Hope
Although you don’t necessarily experience every stage of grief – You will definitely go through some/ most of it. The shock and denial lasts for a while. Try your best not to linger on the denial for too long. THIS SHIT IS REAL. IT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. The sooner you accept it, the sooner things become more clear and get better. You don’t spend a lot of time feeling pain or guilt or even anger. You do for a little bit but it’s all apart of the process. These feelings will help you realize a lot of things. The depression will come in small waves. I have probably said this so many times already (or will later on in this letter) but go with the motions and feel every little feeling there is to be felt. This is all apart of your ‘journey.’ All of these weird and foreign feelings you feel right now and will continue to feel in the early months of treatment will subside. You will soon start to rebuild, accept and feel hope; and when you do, all of the pain and anger will almost feel like it was worth it. You will love yourself for persisting and staying strong. STAY STRONG.
You have been thrown so far deep into a world you would never think you would be a part of. That a lot of 23 year old people would ever think to be apart of – until they were at least old and grey that is. You are going to grow and learn so much in this new, big and ugly world; not only about yourself but also about the world around you, about your body and about the people in your life. This is a blessing on its own. Knowledge is power and being thrown into the world of IVF treatments, chemotherapy, surgery and all things cancer;(all at the innocent age of 23) you have gained knowledge that you would otherwise never have had the opportunity to learn. Listen, do you own research, start the conversation and ask questions. You’ll be able to share this information with a multitude of people and spread the word of body awareness and checking your boobies; with your closest friends and family and even strangers.
I know you don’t like people worrying about you, but let them worry. Don’t get annoyed, be gentle. Let them check up on you and send you constant notations of love and support. Let them buy you little gifts or cook you meals. People feel helpless at times and really don’t know how to treat somebody going through what you’re about to, especially the people in your life. This is new for everybody, so let them help you. They will understand there will be bad days. This is hard for you all but they will band together behind your back. Although you won’t always seek it you will feel their love and support from afar.
All your life you have praised just how lucky you are and have adored everybody in your life. You have fantastic people around you and that admiration only heightens as the year goes on. You realize that every single person that you choose to give your energy to in your life, are equally willing to give it back tenfold. As you could already guess; Mum, Dad & Joe and Riley are your rocks. Your girlfriends are absolutely magical; Lets hold on to them hey. And your family will have your back 100%.
Some truly beautiful new relationships and opportunities can grow and blossom from all of this, so don’t be afraid to say yes to new things. You are going to receive the support and kindness from hundreds, maybe even thousands of strangers. Over the internet and in person! You touch the hearts of so many people; locally, statewide, nationally & even internationally!!! And even more beautifully, you give them hope and inspire them. I know right?! I’m just as in awe as you. Still. That is just how bright you will shine and how brave you are going to be by being completely yourself and sharing your story honestly.
I know I have bragged about just how loved you’re going to be and supported but don’t be mistaken; you will feel lonely and isolated at times because your loved ones truly won’t understand just how hard it is and exactly what you’re going through. Don’t make them feel guilty for not understanding. Seek the comfort from fellow ‘battlers’or ‘survivors’ even if they are strangers, if you really want to talk to somebody. There are even professionals. There are plenty of people out there who understand what you’re going through willing to have a chat, just lend an ear, or give advice. Having cancer doesn’t give you a free pass to hate the world and isolate yourself – there are plenty of people out there.
There are going to be some things you miss out on, but people make it known that you are missed. Some days you will cry at the most random times, let it all out!! There will be some days where you’re not able to get out of bed, but it’ll pass. Use this time to binge watch every show you’ve been meaning to in your life on Netflix, GUILT FREE. As I said, the loneliness will come and go. There is nothing to worry about because you will never be truly alone – there are people who understand.
Should we address what you’re most worried about? The physical features?
I’m just going to be blunt here. You lose your hair 16 days after your first chemo. You will be heartbroken and it honestly breaks my heart right now thinking about it as I type. (OMG I’m crying) There is absolutely nothing I can say to prepare you for the emotions you are going to feel as chunks of it start to fall out. It is honestly the most gut wrenching feeling ever. You also lose your eye lashes and eye brows. You actually literally lose hair everywhere. You get a free Brazilian and armpit/leg shave for a solid 5 months or so (ah-mazing) Losing your hair is going to be the hardest thing you go through the next couple of months, emotionally that is. Just take a deep breathe when it begins. Remember it is only temporary. Your hair grows back. You kinda rock the bald look. You gain a bit of weight and actually puff up a bit in the face. Again, only temporary babe. As you gain a bit of kilos you remain somewhat healthy going through treatment. Other then the hair loss, weight gain and the loss of 1 boob there aren’t many other physical changes. There’s not much to say because despite all of the physical features that you ‘lose’ you will gain the confidence of a warrior and truly feel and believe that beauty does radiate from within. And you’re actually pretty wonderful on the inside. This is one of the many lessons will you will take out of the next 8 months. Some times you won’t recognize the person you see staring back at you in the mirror, but the you, you have always known is still there… only stronger and more wonderful than ever.
You will become a much better version of yourself if you allow yourself to. Don’t let having cancer define you and make you bitter but instead allow you to blossom and better yourself. Speak out and speak up. Speaking about your pain and hard times will help you heal. Be grateful for your life and for the people in your life. Be grateful for EVERYTHING! Everything past, present and future. Being grateful will really help keep you in a positive mindset and will honestly allow many wonderful things around you to present itself.
You are so strong and you are so brave. I adore and love you so much. Hang in there, wonderful, Wonder Woman. You’ve got this, I promise you.
All my love, light and encouragement,