Cancer hit me light a lightning rod at 32. I was young, newly married, at the height of my career and planning to start a family.
One minute I was walking my dogs and the next thing I knew, I was flying through the air. My dog Bella gave me a strong, sudden tug on my left arm that jerked me forward, dislodging a large tumor from my armpit in the process. My Bella saved my life that day.
I was thrust into chemotherapy a few days after diagnosis and told that chemo would likely kill my chances of ever having children. I quit my new job and assumed my new role as CEO of my cancer treatment.
When I tested positive for BRCA 1, my medical team recommended a double radical mastectomy. And that is what I did, with great difficulty. I finished chemotherapy on December 9, 2005 and on January 11, 2006 I had the surgery.
I was in full-blown menopause. Knowing how much we wanted a child, my oncologist said that he would sign all the adoption papers we needed. But all the adoption options led to dead ends. We decided that we would become parents regardless of how a baby came to us.
In January 2008, I discovered I was pregnant. My oncologist told us that I was not far enough away from the cancer. He said that if we wanted to do the right thing for my health we would terminate the pregnancy.
I would not strip myself of this unbelievable gift. At the baby ultrasound the technician found the heartbeat and said, “There’s one… and there’s the other one. You have two babies!” Twins! It was the most defining moment of my life.
I tell my story to say that there IS life after cancer. We lost my Bella four years ago but every time I pass the spot where she pulled my arm that day I look up into the sky and say “Thank you Bella!”