10 Jan I had Cancer, Cancer never had me – Coach Erika’s Fight and Win
Posted at 08:33h
Hello Fit Fam!
As you may or may not know, January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month. Although many of you know my cancer journey, this is a perfect month to share my story and provide even more awareness for all my fierce, fit female friends!
I am currently approaching my 5-year cancer-free mark this year. This is a very exciting time because if you remain in complete remission for 5 years or more, most doctors say that you are cured. (insert hallelujah)
At the very tail end of 2013, I was kicking ass and taking names physically (or so I thought) as I had just run the Boston Marathon and was currently training to run again in 2014. I had just turned 34 that week and received a call from Dana Farber regarding my latest abnormal results from my Obgyn. Like any one of us might do, I grabbed my Mom for support and hustled into the city the following week to get to the bottom of things.
What happened next changed my life forever….
I was diagnosed with Stage II Cervical Cancer. What?! I think every emotion proceeded to fill my brain. I was blindsided. I was shocked. I was sad. How did this happen? Aren’t I the epitome of health? Why did this happen to me?
The location of my tumor made it very difficult to decide the next steps. Ultimately, after weeks of back and forth, going in for a hysterectomy was the end result. This posed a few other difficult options – I would never be able to carry my own children. That alone was a very tough pill to swallow. Being single at the time and having to never really face a decision like this made it a hard one. Did I even want kids? Would I still be able to afford this with a surrogate? Who can I talk to about this? A diagnosis like this can change you forever. Figuring out what’s for dinner or what your plans are for the weekend is suddenly less important. Family and personal values are questioned and priorities can be tested and changed. I will never forget coming out of my exam room and having to tell my mother and sister that I will never be able to carry my own children. We all sat there in silence and cried. My family was extremely supportive and checked in on me every free moment they had. Since I lived alone (and had 3 different surgeries) I stayed with my parents for a while until I felt strong enough to move around on my own. When you go through something this hard and life-changing it really shows you who is important in your life and just how strong you have to be – it is the only choice you have! The peak times in this journey were the people you didn’t expect to check in, deliver cards, send flowers, or even call, text, or email – just a few kind words made my entire day. To know that your friends and family are thinking about you and want the best for you – there really is nothing better.
I still continue to go through low times. This journey has and continues to be an expensive one for me both mentally and financially. I still haven’t come to a decision to use my eggs that I was able to freeze before surgery, I am hoping one day it just comes to me and I will know what to do. I sometimes find it hard to be surrounded by friends and family with children because I still think, why did this have to happen to me? Then I hold my head up high and think well I was dealt this hand because I am strong enough to handle it! I find my scars to be my gifts from my journey. My ab scars are the most profound of all my others not to mention my belly button will never be the same. These marks vividly remind me that skilled surgeons unlocked me with their tools, took out what had to be taken, sewed me back up, and saved my life. It is almost as if they left their life-giving signatures on my skin. I’ve always believed in the power of stories and that’s what scars do. They allow me to tell my story and spread awareness to others which is the best gift of all. This is where you all come in! I can only hope that my story doesn’t spark a pity party but inspires you to take care of your body in the best way possible and to listen when something isn’t right. After all, only YOU know YOU best.
So please join me this weekend at Saturday’s workout and dress in teal & white supporting Cervical Cancer Awareness. The ratty rubber teal/white bracelet on my right arm (that I never take off) is a constant reminder that I am stronger than I think and have come so far and I am only going to continue to go up from here.
Never give up, never give in. Never be ashamed of a scar, it simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you. And never look back, you aren’t going that way.
Fight. Like. A. Girl. Every. Damn. Day.