It’s Monday morning. My husband already left for work and I’m lying in my cozy bed with a lovely view of the underside of my eyelids. I’m startled awake by my 2-year-old as he snuggles up under the covers and asks to watch a movie. We decide on “Goosebumps 2.”
My daughter wakes up an hour later than her normal time and comes down the hallway into my room to join her brother and I for our viewing party. We quickly realize that the three of us in one queen size bed, without my morning coffee and with their limited patience, only leads to kicking, arguing, and mommy becoming more ready than ever to get up and make breakfast.
Time for breakfast! Before I do anything, I need to eat. Since starting radiation to my spine, my stomach becomes quite uneasy if I let myself get too hungry. I decide on a simple bowl of Cheerios with milk and a cup of coffee.
After breakfast, I get my kids settled in the living room with a show on Netflix to entertain them long enough for me to take a shower. As soon as I get out, they make their way to the basement to play while I continue getting dressed.
With radiation comes very sensitive skin, so after my shower, I need to lather on a thick layer of lotion to my chest and back, and make sure to wear soft, comfortable clothes. Today I choose a loose-fitting shirt with leggings. The leggings are a must for radiation because they are perfectly form-fitting, so I can sit in the exact position I need to be in for treatment.
Besides being a cancer patient, I’m also a wife and stay-at-home mom. Naturally, a Monday morning isn’t complete until I throw in a load of laundry!
We finally get ourselves out of the house. First stop is the library so we can exchange some books and the kids can play a bit – for free! After the library, we make our way to the grocery store to pick up a few things. Then, we head back home for lunch.
My mom, aka Grammy, comes over to the house to have lunch with us before I head out for my appointments. We’re lucky that we have family close by to help out with the kids. When I have doctor’s appointments and my husband is at work, this helps us save money on daycare expenses and keeps my mind at ease.
I kiss my kids goodbye, thank my mom, and drive to UConn for radiation and infusion. It’s only a 25-minute drive, but I like to give myself extra time to park in the garage and not rush. Most days, radiation isn’t until after my husband gets home from work and I’m usually bolting out the door only to get there five minutes late.
Today, I also have an infusion appointment, so we were able to switch to an earlier radiation slot and take advantage of extra Grammy time.
After changing into my radiation wrap, I go in for radiotherapy treatment to my chest wall and spine. Of course, the day I get there early and have another appointment to get to, they take me in late, but the techs quickly set me up on the table, treat my chest wall, reposition me, and treat my spine. As soon as I’m done, before putting my shirt back on, I spread Aquaphor ointment all over the left side of my chest and back to keep the radiated areas as moist as possible.
I briefly meet with my radiation oncologist to check in and update him with any symptoms I’m feeling. Right now, it’s mostly fatigue and sensitive skin, so he nonchalantly says, “Keep up the good work,” and I’m on my way.
After taking the elevator up to the fourth floor, I check in with infusion and wait for them to call my name. Once I go in, they check my weight, blood pressure, oxygen level, and temperature. My nurse then comes over to see how I’m feeling and runs through potential symptoms I could be having since my last infusion three weeks ago.
The only complaint I have is side effects from radiation. She proceeds to access my port, and after getting a blood return, she draws blood to send to the lab to monitor various things such as blood cell counts, hemoglobin, and potassium. Then, she puts in the order for the medications I’m receiving today.
My medications are finally ready and my nurse comes over to administer them. At this time, I also put a lidocaine cream on just next to my belly button. This time, the injections lined up with my infusion, which saves me a trip, but also makes my visit more interesting. These injections are very large and very painful, hence the cream.
I’m done with infusion. Time to go home!
While I was at the cancer center all afternoon, my husband was home with the kids cooking dinner. Tonight’s menu consists of steak, potatoes, and Vidalia onions on the grill.
After dinner, I apply another layer of Aquaphor to keep my skin as moisturized as possible and ease some of the burning from radiation.
Metastatic breast cancer cannot get in the way of me being a mom. My two children need me, and they also need baths! Into the tub they go, followed by pajamas, story time, bedtime songs, and lights out by 8 p.m.
Now that the kids are in bed, mostly quiet, I take my magnesium and calcium supplements. Then I climb into my own bed to watch “How To Get Away With Murder” before falling asleep to prepare for what adventures we have in store for us tomorrow.
Sarah is a 28-year-old mother of two. She was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer in October 2018, and has since undergone six rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy without reconstruction, and 28 rounds of radiation. Before her diagnosis, Sarah was training for her first half marathon, but was unable to race due to her life-changing diagnosis. Now that she is done with active treatment, she strives to improve her health and begin running again to achieve that half marathon and live as long as possible for her children. Breast cancer has changed her life in every way imaginable, but by spreading awareness and teaching others about the realities behind this devastating disease, she hopes to become a piece of the influence that cures MBC for good!