Life After Treatment | Breast Cancer

I cannot believe that I have not published a blog post in over seven months! That is just proof that my life is crazy and time is going by so fast!


In those seven months, I’ve done a lot! 

  • Finished Herceptin infusions
  • Got my port removed
  • Went to San Francisco and attended the Young Survival Coalition Summit which was amazing!
  • Planning a trip to Portugal this summer
  • Started physical therapy


I thought I would give a quick update on what life has been like after treatment. Most people think that since you are “done,” your life just goes back to normal. That couldn’t be far from the truth. It is so hard to get back into my routine and not worry about cancer. I worry daily that it will come back and I’ll have to fight again. It’s so crazy how much my mind is consumed of cancer. A cough, runny nose, muscle knot or headache makes me instantly think cancer. How bad is that?! 

I’ve never had anxiety in my life and I’ve had a lot of it after treatment. I seem to worry about everything, but I’ve tried to incorporate some mindfulness in my day. I’ve found the following tricks to help:

  • Practicing Yoga
  • Eating healthier
  • Thinking positively 
  • Staying busy
  • Finding a new hobby
  • Planning new trips (since that always puts me in a good mood!)
  • Talking to a social worker

The emotional battle seems to be very challenging since the mind can play tricks on you. Every ache and pain I think it’s cancer. I need to keep reminding myself that I’m healthy and I cannot worry about everything. It’s much harder than you think! I’m trying my best to live in the moment.

What are some tips that have helped you? I can feel myself getting stronger every day which makes me so happy! And this hair growth! 


Keep smiling!

Xo,

Monique 

Survivorship | Breast Cancer Treatment

It’s been over two months since my last blog post. Can you believe that?! Two months! A lot has happened in two months and I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had the time to sit and write. Yes, crazy!

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, we are bombarded with pink everything. Pink hats, shirts, pink ribbon – it’s everywhere! While I love the awareness, breast cancer isn’t glamorous. It sucks. I’m thankful for the treatment but the last few months were awful that it’s hard to see all of the pink and glam. Throwing up from chemo, losing my hair and getting burns from radiation is not pretty – just saying! Find the person behind the pink ribbon and put your money to causes that actually help patients.


I’ve been getting asked a lot about what I am doing now that I’m cancer-free and back to my “normal” life. I’m going to be honest and say I’m not back to my normal life and I still struggle every day with my feelings. I started a new job and it’s amazing. However, I’m struggling with weight gain from chemo and being in menopause. While I love not getting my period, I HATE that none of my clothes fit. I have no energy to work out after a long day of commuting and working. I’ll soon find a routine, but the survivorship stage is just as hard as treatment. It’s so hard to just forget what I’ve been through the last year. Let’s be honest – I just fought for my life at 27 years old. Before all of this happened, I was focused on my career, hopefully getting engaged soon, and just living my life traveling and having fun. When everything just stops, it’s hard to just start up again. I’m not okay – yet – and that’s okay. I don’t recognize myself when I look in the mirror and that’s just hard. I don’t see my long curly hair and skinny body. I see someone with short hair and a bit heavier, but I’m alive. I’m here today and that’s all that matters. Cancer may have taken a bit of me, but I’m a much stronger person than I was a year ago. 


I was honored to be a part of Stupid Cancer’s podcast a few weeks ago. I was so happy to share my journey and how I’m looking forward to happy days ahead. (My segment starts at 9:50 – so I hope you listen!) 

This survivorship stage is not easy. I am still getting Herceptin until January, but I have a lot of good things to look forward to. My Cancerversary is on October 22 and instead of being sad, I plan on celebrating.

I’m here, healthy and alive. What else can I be grateful for? Oh yes – hair! 


Keep smiling.

Xo,

Monique 

Done Radiation! | Breast Cancer Treatment

I’m done radiation!!!! I am so happy that this last step of the journey is behind me. I kicked cancer’s butt! I will officially be done kicking cancer’s butt in February because I need Herceptin infusions every three weeks, but that should be a piece of cake!

I promised I would share some pictures from our party! I also rang the heck out of the radiation bell! Enjoy! 


I’m now back at work full time and waiting for my hair to grow. I waited 3 weeks from my last chemo to really start documenting my hair growth since my chemo was in 3 week cycles. It’s growing, but I wish it would grow faster! If you have any techniques to share, please comment below!


I celebrated with margaritas of course and I cannot wait to start my new life. My life was paused for a bit to deal with all of this but I’m back! I’m ready to be happy!

Stay smilin’

Xo,

Monique

30/33 Rounds of Radiation Done! | Breast Cancer Treatment

Hello my friends!

I know it has been awhile since I wrote a blog post. Things have been so busy between work and finishing up radiation. I also had surgery to remove a toenail today. Another lovely side effect of chemo. It will take a year to grow back – ugh! I promise not to share any pictures of it because it looks so gross!

I currently have finished 30 rounds! I have three left. Only three! Where did the time go?! The past six weeks have flown by. It’s absolutely unreal. On Thursday I will be ringing the radiation bell (pics to come!) and celebrating with my family. I cannot wait! 


Looking back at this journey makes me very emotional. I cannot believe everything I have gone through. From surgery to six rounds of aggressive chemo and radiation burns, I’m a true fighter and survivor. The past few months have been so challenging, but I did it, well almost. On Thursday, I can officially say I beat cancer. That is pretty damn awesome. 


Until then, who is going to celebrate with me on Thursday?! My motto throughout this journey has been keep on smiling. So I will smile really big on Thursday and I cannot wait to share it with you!

Stay strong and keep smilin’😊


Xo,

Monique

Halfway Done Radiation! | Love Your Life

My halfway point of radiation was yesterday! Yay! I cannot believe that I’m halfway done! I feel like I just started and was getting nervous for another unknown part of this journey. 


Throughout this journey, it is so easy to wish time would fly by. When I was going through chemo, I couldn’t wait for those five months to be over. Here we are in June almost July and I cannot wait to be done radiation, Herceptin infusions and get my port out. When I think of that, that brings me to next year – 2017! Woah! I don’t want it to be next year yet. I don’t want to be almost thirty years old. I want time to slow down. We are already halfway through 2016. Where did the time go?!


It’s so easy to want this struggle to be a part of my past. I want to never think about this again, but I don’t want to wish the days, weeks and years away. I’ve been having a difficult time with the life after treatment and what that looks like. I find myself sad and when I look back on the battle I’ve won, I cannot help but smile. I am proud of myself. I fought the hardest battle of my life… And I’m winning. Fatigue, radiation burns or scars cannot get in my way. I will keep making lemonade with life’s lemons and man, do I love lemons! Never give up and never wish your days away. The future is beautiful and bright. I can either be sad all of the time or happy, I choose to wear a smile instead of a frown.

Today at radiation, a gentleman came up to me and said, “Wow. You are always smiling. How many rounds do you have left?” I smiled and told him I’m trying to stay positive and that I’m halfway done. Little did I know, this man was having radiation to his mouth and throat and he could barely talk. My heart felt sad for him. It seemed like he was having a tough day since he told me his mouth burned so badly. As I look at my skin turning a bit pink, it’s a reminder that this journey is so different for many people. The man then walked away without saying another word. I hope that he will be smiling when I see him tomorrow. This sucks, but it could always be worse. Keep smiling!


Xo,

Monique 

Radiation – 8/33 Rounds Done!

Hello my friends! I know it has been some time since I wrote a blog post. I started work last week and with daily radiation treatments, I’m sure a busy girl! I’ve completed 8 out of 33 rounds of radiation and so far so good!

I’ve been moisturizing 3-4 times a day. During the day, I use Shea Moisture All-Natural Lotion and at night I use Aquaphor. My skin hasn’t changed at all and I’m just taking extra care of it because I don’t want it to get too red. I’m avoiding deodorant before my treatments since they are at noontime. After my treatment, I put lotion and deodorant on. I’ve also avoided shaving my armpits during this time since I don’t want it to get too irritated. Yes, I did in fact say SHAVING! I have hairs under my arms! My oncologist was impressed when he saw my skin yesterday, so I must be doing something right! 🙂

Next week is the halfway point of radiation and I cannot wait. The whole process is pretty easy. The challenging part is sitting in Boston traffic! I’ve been a bit tired but I think it’s just the combination of working and going to treatment every day.

I’ve also been rocking my beautiful Radiant Wrap. If you are currently going through radiation treatment, I highly suggest you check out this amazing company. This wrap is soft, beautiful and it makes me feel so comfortable while I am waiting for my treatment. I’ve received so many compliments on it and every hospital should get these for their patients!

RadiantWrap2

Are there any tips that you recommend during the second part of radiation when it’s the hardest?

xo,

Monique

Radiation Jitters | Breast Cancer Treatment

Happy June everyone! Can you believe it’s June?! This is just insane to me. Time is going WAY too fast and needs to slow down. At least summer is on its way!

On Monday, I start my next step in this crazy journey. I start my first round of radiation and I’ll need a total of 27-33 rounds. My doctor told me I will know my exact number of rounds when I meet with him next week. Just like every other step in this process, it’s something new and I am nervous. I’m nervous about the side effects and how I’m going to feel. Granted, it won’t be like chemo (Thank God!), but I still don’t know how my body is going to react. I wonder if I will get burnt and how bad it could be. I’m already fair skin so I hope it’s not that bad. My doctor also advised me to cover up the area during treatment so the sun doesn’t make it worse. Yes, that means no maxi dresses and tank tops for this girl all summer. Bummer! (Hey, that rhymed. 🙂 )

As you all know, I need to be prepared with everything. I just purchased some Aquaphor healing ointment and I’m going to apply that to my skin three times a day per my doctor’s order (I can’t apply it four hours before my treatment.) I’m hoping this will help. I should be okay to wear deodorant.

I’m also really excited that I have an amazing care team. I got approved for proton radiation and this targets the exact place where the tumor was and doesn’t affect any healthy tissue or organs. I’m so happy for this because I’ve been seeing a cardiologist and they are keeping an eye on my heart. I also need echocardiograms every month now, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

I also received my radiation tattoos about two weeks ago. That was a crazy process. I wasn’t nervous at all, and then the nurse had a difficult time accessing my port for the contrast. She tried three times before calling another nurse. So, I wasn’t prepared for this and the thought that my port may not be working! I didn’t even get to numb the area because I thought I would need an IV. For my ladies with a port, if you haven’t asked for the numbing cream, do it! I never feel anything when my port was accessed through chemo. Another nurse came over and was able to access it. I was so happy that everything was okay because I need my port until February for my Herceptin infusions. Anyways, on to the tats…

For this test, you need a CT scan with contrast either through your port or IV to help the radiologists with mapping out your treatment area. I had to lay down on a table with my arms above my head and I could not move. The techs use a laser to pinpoint the exact area and you will stay in this position throughout your radiation treatment. Then, they put you in the CT scan and scan your body a few times and move you until everything is perfect. Once they have you lined up, they actually tattoo little tiny dots on your body to help you line up with the machine. Yes, these are permanent and they just look like tiny freckles. I have a high tolerance for pain, and one of them hurt a bit. After the fiasco with my port, I wasn’t expecting to get poked three times and then have the tattoos hurt! Oh well, they are just battle marks from this whole crazy journey.

These images are from Google, but it gives you an idea of what I’m talking about:

Can you even see one of my radiation tattoos?

RadiationTats.jpg

For anyone who has already been on this radiation journey, are there any tips that you recommend?

Stay strong and beautiful.

xo,

Monique