One year ago, I received a phone call that would change my life in so many ways I never dreamed. “Ms. Trom I am sorry to inform you that your biopsy has come back malignant, you will need to make further appointments”.
You never think it’s going to happen to you, but with statistics of 1 in 8, it is bound to hit you or someone very close to you. Breast Cancer.
In a few days, we would be dropping our 14yo daughter, Ella, off at sleep-away camp, with a scaryunknown ahead of us all. We didn’t tell her simply because we didn’t know exactly what to say yet. The next month was chock full of appointments. There was scanning, poking and prodding like I’d never dreamed. Some of the tests were the most inhuman testing methods; it made me think “if testicular cancer were as prevalent as breast cancer, I’m sure there would be less torturous means.” I think I might have preferred water boarding over some of the biopsy methods I endured.
When Ella returned from camp 3 weeks later, we had all the information needed to properly inform her of my diagnosis and what lied ahead. Knowing how scary this could be to a teenage mind, I remember saying “If you’re going to Google anything, Google this...”. I handed her a piece of paper with my EXACT diagnosis so she could see for herself that - out of all the scenarios out there, my Breast Cancer was caught early and is very treatable. I am one of the lucky ones in this sisterhood of survivors.
What lied ahead was 6 Chemo treatments, 3 weeks apart followed by a double mastectomy, followed by reconstruction surgery and 12 more inhibitor infusions (also very three weeks). I fared well during chemo with few side effects, all things considered. I had muscle and bone aches, everything tasted like metal, constant eye twitches, and an abundance of saliva. If you got close enough to me, I might even wink at you and spit on you at the same time. I once introduced myself to a friend of a friend and as I started to talk a huge spit bubble appeared out of nowhere. My friend and I laughed so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks. If you don’t laugh, you cry…I choose to laugh. Don’t get me wrong there have been tears along the way, but this is the hand I was dealt and I was bound come hell or high water to not let this Cancer define me or own me. Even when I refer to it, the symptoms, or whatever, I call it “The Cancer” in the most gravely voice I can muster. Forgot your phone? “Must be The Cancer!”, Having a hard time with the stairs? “Gotta be The Cancer!”
I fared well through this last year, because of the great support from my dear friends and family. It is so moving to see the people that you surround you rise up to the occasion. From bringing meals to the house, sending meal packages, coming to sit during treatment, sitting at home with me after treatment, and even contributions to fund the “cool cap”. If you don’t know about the Cool Cap, it. Is actually very ‘cool’.. get what I did there?? It’s kind of like a gel ice pack in the shape of a skull cap that freezes $#!+ out of your head so that the blood vessels constrict and the chemo doesn’t get absorbed in the scalp; therefore allowing you get to keep your hair. My husband even made a ‘Who wore it best’ meme (photo inset) Most insurance doesn’t cover it yet since
Who wore it best? First day of Chemo with my DigniCap.
it’s fairly new technology, and it’s pretty expensive, but keeping my hair definitely helped keep my spirits up. Add in countless texts, calls and cards - some from people I haven’t seen in years. I am so very blessed in this life. The generosity I have witnessed in this last year is astounding. I have become more connected with my gratitude for even the smallest things. The taste of an amazing dinner my husband made, sleeping through the night, and even a simple walk in the park. I still have some side effects from treatments, but in the whole scheme of things, it could be a whole lot worse. I am blessed. Best of all my last Chemo was the day before Thanksgiving!
This last year was filled with a lot of firsts but they were not all bad. I went kayaking for the first time; I walked in the Susan G Komen Walk for the Cure raising over $4000, I turned 50, and through all of this, our daughter has thrived, graduating 8th grade with honors and going to one of the most competitive high schools in NYC.
Following my surgery in December, I was given the all clear and I am CANCER FREE! In August, I will have my last inhibitor treatment. I don’t know what lies ahead. I am looking forward to going back to work and getting on with my life. To get on living. It’s still a little scary, but what challenge in life isn’t?
A closing note: get your regular mammograms ladies!! #savethetatas
MB Trom is a Fashion Executive in NYC, where she lives with her husband and teen daughter...and mutt extraordinaire, Cleo. She is a cancer survivor who has a bit of a shoe obsession, loves cooking and is often caught tinkering.