At forty years old, after having gained excessive weight from having two children, I decided to take back my life and get healthy again, as I had been in my twenties prior to getting married and having children.
I had just started a new business and was losing weight and feeling great about myself. When I was younger, I studied martial arts and was now back to kickboxing a couple days a week… my business ilovekickboxing.com
was taking off and life seemed perfect.
As I started dropping the weight and body fat, I noticed a mass in my chest. As I lost more weight, I noticed the lump getting bigger. I started going for mammograms, thinking it was possibly breast cancer. Everything kept checking out ok as far as the breast was concerned. Finally, during the sonogram after a mammography, they finally discovered the mass was on my rib. After further testing and bone scans it was concluded I had a tumor on my rib. Because of the size, it had to be removed and they had to take out the whole rib. Wow, after all my hard work getting back in shape, I would have to back off working out. I just started feeling good about myself and my body again, shopping in regular departments instead of plus size and now I had to have surgery.
All the doctors I consulted with were confident the tumor was benign, so I wrapped around how I would take care of my young children while healing and how I would keep on track with my healthier lifestyle. I did not want to gain the weight back.
The surgery went off without a hitch and I was the model patient… and the youngest in the cardio-thorasic ward at that moment. I had been told I would be in the hospital for about a week but I was released after three days. I continued to eat super clean since I could not exercise. This at least kept my weight in check and I could still feel good about my appearance.
Two weeks after surgery I was on the treadmill and doing light weights leg workouts. Mind you, I just had chest surgery and a rib removed, but nothing was stopping me. I made up my mind to change and I was sticking to it.
Then, I get the phone call… biospy report is in… the tumor was malignant. That damn thing was cancer! Primary bone cancer. I am NOT the demographic for this type of cancer. Do you think that stopped me? LOL, nope. I worked out even harder. I ate even cleaner. Luckily we caught it at a low-grade and they think they got it all with the surgery. But I was on to the oncologists. I ended up needing to go through radiation but was spared chemotherapy. I still worked out five to six days a week through the whole thing. I did not want to feel bad again carrying all the extra weight: not for how I felt physically or how it made me feel bad about myself and ruined my confidence levels.
The radiation was not easy and it gave me a new compassion for cancer patients, even though many members of my own family have gone through treatment for various forms of the disease. I would feel so sad thinking about all the children who go through cancer treatment. At least as an adult I could understand. I can’t imagine how scared they must be. And how the side effects could make them feel so terribly different from other kids. What if it were my own kids. I had to be noble for all of them.
The radiation was no fun for sure. At first it seamed like a breeze and I was grateful not to have to do the chemo. But after a few weeks my skin started to burn… badly. It was raw and open. And because the surgery site was concentrated around the breast, it was obviously an area covered almost all the time, hindering the skin from healing. It hurt just wearing a bra.
I found it almost amusing that upon the last treatment I was congratulated for “graduating.” Really?
My skin is still somewhat discolored in the radiation area but not too noticeable with clothes on. And the scar is underneath my breast, so at least I do not have people staring at a scar across my chest. But the surgery and/or radiation has left me with one breast a cup size larger than the other. This I am quite conscious about. I notice it although others have said they do not. I am hesitant about getting intimate with anyone though, since I am so aware of the size difference. The oncologist is unsure at this point if they will ever be the same size again. I try to think of it as being lucky I am alive for my two kids rather than the fact I am not symmetrical any more.
I am once again back to kickboxing and trying to go forward one day at a time.