By Robyn Goldman
Adapted from posts originally shared on Robyn’s Instagram which were written as diary entries to herself and to her followers as she documented her experiences of being diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer at 33 years old. This is part 1.
Day 1: October 21, 2021 | 11:07am
Well, the results are in.
Take a seat.
Take a deep breath.
Your world is going to change with all the appointments and treatments coming, but just know that you can handle anything. If 2020 and 2021 has taught you anything, it’s that you’re tough as nails.
Right now, nothing makes sense and you’re still trying to understand all this. How do you tell people? Should you even tell people? How will your family and friends handle this? Your boyfriend - or not? Your job? The list goes on.
Right now, you’re probably angry. Angry because you knew. You knew even when you went to the doctor months ago and were told not to worry about it. When you were told that because you’re young and you have no family history, it’s nothing to worry about. Allow yourself to be angry. Grieve. It’s all part of the process. So is feeling scared and sad. Strangely, I also feel apologetic. I don’t know why I feel apologetic, but I do. While I continue to process what the fuck is happening, I am sure I’ll experience all the other emotions.
Day 12: November 1, 2021
I found out that the tumour is 1.2cm. I’m lucky, and even though it feels like a marble to me, it’s small and it hasn’t grown. My surgery is schedule for day 28. Once that is complete, then I’ll have to wait for two weeks to find out more about my diagnosis and more about what kind of little monster is living inside of me. From my understanding, if it’s not genetic, then it’s environmental (right?). I’m choosing to see the glass as half full. I’m going to come out of this, albeit with much shorter hair, but I will be stronger, wiser, kinder, and softer. I know that I’m going to have really shitty days. They say chemo is like the worst tequila hangover, EVER! And I swore off tequila years ago but I’m ready. I can do this.
Day 13: November 2, 2021
In two weeks, my world has gone from “normal” to “a new kind of normal”. I still wake up. I still brush my teeth. I still go to work and engage with my peers. Believe it or not, life hasn’t stopped.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, I didn’t know what to expect. The kindness and the support that has been shown to me is overwhelming and I am flooded with emotions. I joined Rethink Breast Cancer’s Facebook group. My first post was, “I’m scared. I’m alone. I don’t know what questions to ask. I have no idea how to navigate this.” From the responses and from the posts of other women in the group, I could see that I wasn’t the only one. There’s more of me. More boobs, although some are missing their boobs. More scars. More tears. More families. More stories. More support. In such a short period of time I have joined a new kind of sorority. To be honest, joining a group was at the bottom of my list but the messages of love hit differently and are welcomed.
Day 17: November 6, 2021
In my journal this week I was asked to “write down something that at this moment in your life you grateful for”. My answer was that I am grateful to live in Canada, and for many reasons. While “The True North” is far from perfect, I will never take for granted how lucky I am. From the day I went to the ER because I was concerned about a lump, to the ultrasounds that same day, the staff that attended to me were amazing. I got a biopsy, mammogram, and an MRI, and the only thing I have had to pay so far was two $13 parking fees and a $30 parking ticket. Apparently, there’s no preferred parking for cancer patients. I asked.
My surgery is scheduled in a week from now, and I’m not scared. Nor worried. I’m excited. It’s weird to use that word ‘excited’ in a situation like this because it has a positive meaning behind it, but I’m using it to mean that I’m ready. As the leaves change from greens to reds and yellows to prepare for winter, the most incredible thing is that next spring they’ll come back the same, but different; more mature, brighter, stronger. Reborn (I should have paid more attention to science when I was younger to explain this better). I’m like the trees; I’ll come back the same, but different. Reborn. Ready. Brighter, stronger. I am going to listen to my soul and my intuition. When my body needs rest during treatments and after surgery, I’ll respect it. But I’m going to push myself a little because I know I have it in me. I’m already counting down the days till I ring the bell at Princess Margaret.
Day 24: November 13, 2021
I spoke to the doctor yesterday because I am nervous and filled with anxiety. I’m hanging on by a thread and my emotions are changing by the minute. He confirmed that the cancer I have is Triple Negative. It doesn’t sound good, because it’s not good. I asked him to give it to me straight and he said that this type of breast cancer kind of sucks as this type of cancer is the most aggressive but there’s a lot of data and new treatments. Fuck.
I have so many questions, but when you don’t know anything about something, where the hell are you supposed to start?
While nothing is confirmed, he told me that I will be getting chemo treatment and radiation. Those things I assumed and anticipated but when he confirmed it for the second time, I feel like it just hit me harder. Damn it. I’m pretty upset. I’m angry. I’m still processing. I am scared too. Scared of chemo and scared of losing my hair. We’re so selective of what we share on the internet. Out of the 10 pictures taken in the same pose, we decide which one looks the best for our followers, for our image and for our self-confidence. We make decisions on which one we think will get the most likes. We’re all guilty of this. I grew up on the stage, dancing and cheering. Now, at work, I’m the first person people see when they walk into the office. This world can be superficial and a lot of one’s worth is put in how they look. It’s a crappy reality and I will be forced to challenge that after chemo and potentially losing my hair.
November 17th is the day I will add two new scars to my body and that will likely not be the end of it. Once the full report comes back of what my actual treatment will be, there’ll probably be even more scars. But those can all be covered up, what can’t be covered is everything else. Yes, there are wigs, scarves, hats etc. to cover your head but how can one really prepare for the reality of losing your hair? I know that some may say it’s too early to worry about this and that I shouldn’t think about it until it happens but every time I wash my hair or put on mascara, I wonder about how many more times I’ll get to do this. I know that my value is not in my hair, my looks, my body, or in how people perceive me but there’s nothing wrong with being sexy and confident in your appearance.
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