That’s me on top of Mt. Yale, 14,199 feet above sea level.
I technically wasn’t supposed to be there. I had asked my doctor 3 days earlier at my final radiation treatment if I could go kayaking that weekend. It was my 37th birthday and I was officially done with cancer treatments. I was ready to get back to my life!
He said no.
So I climbed a 14’er instead, figuring he didn’t say I couldn’t walk, and hiking was technically just walking.
It was hard – on so many levels.
I was physically fatigued from the 6 months of chemo, the bilateral mastectomy, and 5 weeks of radiation. I had to walk slow and rest often.
I was frustrated that I had to have my husband carry a pack with water and gear for both of us because I couldn’t carry my own.
I was self-conscious of my flat chest under my shirt. Why I was worried that the other people making their way up the mountain even had a fleeting thought about my chest is beyond me...
I was extremely uncomfortable because my skin was peeling and weeping from the radiation. Which is obviously why my doctor had said no to kayaking.
But as I stood on the top of that mountain and looked out for miles in all directions, I was also grateful. Humbled. Proud. Hopeful.
Standing on top of that mountain was a metaphor, I thought. I had suffered and strained, but conquered. I made it through the hard part and it was all downhill from here.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The following year was filled with frustration, weakness, injury, confusion, depression – all worse than when I had been fighting cancer.
For all the information I had received about my options and procedures and drugs during cancer, I didn’t get any guidance on how to “be” after cancer.
“I have experience working with breast cancer patients” sounded great when trainers and coaches told me that. But the reality was they hadn’t been there. Despite their best intentions, they didn’t actually get it.
I GET IT.
Chemo, mastectomy, radiation, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction, tissue expanders, neuropathy, lymphedema, fatigue, chemo brain, depression.
Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. And after struggling and failing multiple times, I realized I needed to get myself through it because nobody else seemed able to. I became a Certified Personal Trainer and a Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist. I got myself physically strong again.
Then I went to work on my mind. I learned how to quiet the anxiety. I defined my values and started living to them. I dreamed. I designed. Then I created.
It wasn’t all great. I had a few setbacks still. But I started making forward progress.
I did it.
And now I want to help you.
I don’t want you to be revved up and ready to embrace your post-cancer life, only to lose a year struggling, wondering if “limited” is the new way of life.
I will guide you out of the anxiety, confusion, weakness and overwhelm of breast cancer survival and into a life of control, clarity and strength.