I’ve never been a fan of the color pink. One year ago, my phone rang, and I instantly felt numb from head to toe. You see, my intuition had been overwhelming me for days, and I just knew. The radiologist said, “Angie, I am so sorry, you have breast cancer.” Most thirty-nine-year-olds will never get this call, especially ones who are proactive and get a yearly 3D mammogram. In fact, the only reason I was getting annual 3D mammograms was that I knew my biological mother had a history of breast cancer. One year ago, my mammogram was perfectly normal. Life was about to get messy, beautiful, and my faith would be tested.
The call came while I was at our neighborhood pool with my six-year-old son. Grateful for the bright, hot sun was an understatement at that moment. Sunglasses to hide my puffy eyes and tears disguised as beads of sweat came in handy. I will never forget the silence when I called my husband at work. He cried ugly tears, and I reassured him that I would be fine because I am a mom that controls everything in my life. I wanted to keep my diagnosis private. Being known as the “sick mom” and having others reach out made me uncomfortable. Who knew that being diagnosed with breast cancer would come when I needed it the most? When your fate is unpredictable, your “mama bear” instincts become raw and fierce. The will to live and maintain normalcy in the midst of chaos is relentless. You see, I am a mom, and that’s what we do. The need to keep my breast cancer a secret from my son to protect his little heart was undeniable.
Playdates, Botox, skincare, book clubs, PTO meetings, wine, and the Keto Diet were all the rage with my mama friends. Life continued as it should for them, yet my focus became killing cancer. Attention quickly diverted to being truly present with my family, rather than finding ways to pass the time. Small moments were treasured, my days were documented in my daily journal, and I learned that I am not the boss of my life. My teaching career of sixteen years would be put on hold to focus on healing. “New normal” was no longer a phrase, it was my reality. Ultrasounds, biopsies, surgeries, hormone therapy, restless nights, losing my breasts, and unexpected blessings created a volcano within my soul. The fight was on, and I would win! I put on my big girl panties and shared my story publicly, all of it.
I was afraid to share my story. One day, I met a dear friend for wine. She said, “Angie, this is not about you. It’s your time to advocate for women, and you need to share your story with your son.” Those simple words ignited my passion for being bold and encouraging women to get a 3D mammogram before forty. A regular mammogram would have missed my tumor and waiting until I turned forty is not something I like to imagine. Today, I am cancer-free and will take a daily hormone blocker for at least ten years. My son is learning more about my story…baby steps. As soon as I shared a piece with him, he quickly replied, “I knew you were sick mom.” Little eyes are always listening and observing…