Losing Your Way…

I won’t advertise every blog I post, some are for me… because this is my therapy..

Most everyone knows I’m a wedding photographer… For the past 4+ years… we’ve cultivated and nourished this business to a point where we were peaking… The magazines were starting to recognize our work, we’ve won countless awards, referrals were pouring in…. we were finally going to achieve our goal, next spring…. for my husband to join me full time.  And then we found out I have cancer…. all of this is very new, news… still within a couple of weeks and during these two weeks…. it has been both amazing and devastating…

Yesterday, we were finally given the information…. we were dreading. After my mastectomy.. this summer, I will not be able to shoot weddings… for several years… and I will explain…

Someone asked me why? I got a little defensive… I could tell that they felt we were being too cautious….

My diagnosis is… Left Breast – Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and it’s positive in my Sentinel Lymph Node. Right Breast – I had 3 spots on MRI that they were concerned with… when biopsied, my surgical oncologist is unsure that what was biopsied was what was seen on MRI…. What was biopsied… has something called Atypia (pre-cancerous cells)…. which means that in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years… it will most likely develop into cancer.  The doctor recommended mastectomy due to the size of the tumor…. on the left breast. We opted to go ahead and do a double because of the atypia… we do not want to risk going through all of this again. So therefore my course of treatment…. 6 months chemotherapy/double mastectomy/radiation… I will have to wait 6-8 months and then I can start reconstruction.

My doctor is not concerned not for the breasts…. but for the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes are what cause the cancer to spread…. I have a distinct tumor on one of the lymph nodes… but they do not know how many lymph nodes it affects.  Yesterday the reason for my appointment… was…. they wanted to give me the option of biopsying the right breast to either confirm or deny diagnosis…. but also they are concerned about the lymph nodes… the reason is…. if they have to remove even 3-4 of the lymph nodes.. which they will during mastectomy…. I could end up with lympedema… it’s a 1-5% chance… that may seem small… but it’s large enough to not risk it…. If you’ve seen how ugly lymphedema can be…. it’s not worth it. Plus it’s limiting when/if you get it…  If we opted to go ahead an biopsy the areas of concern…. we have to wait for another month before I can start chemo… that gives my body another month for this cancer to spread. We decided to move forward right away with chemo… to start attacking this beast inside me…. and take the slight chance of lymphedema…. but that risk is extremely lowered…. if you do not do anything strenuous with your arms. At the time of surgery… if the chemo has not shrunk the tumor in that main lymph node… and she said with the type of cancer I have… she’s just being real…. that there’s a higher chance it will not kill it completely… My cancer is hormone driven and I have a continuous supply that is feeding these tumors… IF it’s positive in that main node… she will take ALL of the lymph nodes on that side… and my risk goes up to 15-30%. I’ve seen lymphedema…. and I will do everything I can to prevent it. It does not go away. I’m not an older woman in her 60’s-70’s…. I’m still very young… and I have lots of years of sleeveless shirts, swimsuits, etc… that I’d like to enjoy… and not worry about hiding my arms.

I’ve had so many worries and concerns…. 1. our business…. what will happen to it, all this work we’ve put into it… will just slowly die 2. having no breasts for a good long time…. 3. losing my hair (it may seem trivial… but it’s a loss)… 4. losing my studio  5. losing myself…. I’m a photographer, this is what I am…. not to mention that… but I already had self confidence issues… I’m a woman….we all have them… but this… puts it at another level…

And then I remind myself… but you will survive. Yes, it’s going to be a really tough couple of years… financially, emotionally and it’s going to take a toll on my health… but I will be alive… I will be here for my children. Then I’ve had people cause me to worry about my husband leaving or cheating…. and so I talk to him… and he assures me he isn’t going anywhere… This has caused so many vulnerabilities to come out…. and it’s not attractive, at all…

I’ve been through a lot since I’ve been with Darrell… more than one man should have to deal with.. honestly, in the past 6 years… we lost a child and I grieved, terribly…, we went through the premature birth of another child.. where he had to care for me 24 hours a day… and then visit a baby every day in the NICU for months… and now this….plus on top of all of this… the stress of our business…. it’s a lot. It’s only normal for me to worry that it might be too much for him to deal with… He assures me, he’s not going anywhere…. I’m going to need him….

A friend of a friend sent me this… and I was actually wet with tears….

http://vimeo.com/57648966

I pray…. that I find my way like this woman has…. I pray that I can inspire someone, like she has…. I pray that I find my way… and that losing my photography career…. does not mean that I’ve lost my way…. but that I will find my way in another direction….

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