By Guest Blogger: Kelsey
At 30 years old the last thing on my radar was breast cancer. I had no family history of the disease and wasn’t one to do regular self-checks. Finding a lump in my left breast seemed like no big deal, until it wasn’t. It took months for me to be diagnosed and throughout this time I kept thinking, I did everything right. I was healthy, active, I ate well, I breastfed four children all for close to a year each. A few Google searches had the statistics on my side.
But a year ago I was diagnosed with Stage IIB Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, and DCIS. Hearing the words “you have breast cancer” is one thing, but how do you tell four young children?
This is something I struggled with throughout the last year of treatment. It was obvious as I lost my hair and went through chemo that I had to tell them something. How much would they understand? My oldest was seven at the time, and my youngest was two. It was hard enough for them to comprehend why they had to go to bed before the sun went down on school nights. But, the sicker I got, and the more surgeries I went through, the more conversations we had to have. I always tried to explain things in a positive manner, one that was not scary, but informative. I also tried to explain things in a way that each one could understand. But it didn’t matter what I said, it was how I acted that had the most impact.
Motherhood comes with an immense amount of guilt as is. As moms we go to bed every night wonder if we made the right decisions, did we tell each child how much we loved them throughout the day. Was it necessary to yell when the frustration was mounting? These were thoughts of mine before cancer. Now I was thinking about the activities I was missing out on because I was so sick. The homework that I couldn’t help with, the bedtime stories I wasn’t reading. The fact that my children were trying to explain to their friends why their mom was bald. I felt like I was ripping away their childhood with each passing treatment.
Cancer changes you, not just physically, but mentally. In a moment’s notice, there was a timestamp on my life. There was no going back, there was only pressing forward. I had one very long scream session in the shower where I cussed out my left breast, I let myself feel the full weight of my diagnosis, and then I changed. I made the choice to be happy every day, and I made it a point to show my children that cancer would not overshadow them.
I learned throughout treatment that in order to take care of them I had to take care of myself. Self-love is a process. Rewiring yourself to put your needs first without feeling guilty is hard. Understanding that you can’t be everything to everyone, especially with cancer, is hard. But, if there is one thing I have learned throughout this journey it is that we should spend our days focused on what is most important to us, and for me, that is my children, and scrap everything else! You have to value your time and your energy. This doesn’t just go for mothers fighting cancer, this goes for every woman. Focus your energy on the things you can control. I couldn’t control the disease, I couldn’t control how well the treatments worked, but I could control my mind, and I could control my happiness.
About the Author
Kelsey is a breast cancer warrior, stylist, blogger, and podcaster. As a military spouse, she and her family have lived in some incredible places, Alaska is one of her favorites. Currently living in Savannah, GA, Kelsey keeps busy with a life & style blog. Since her diagnosis, she has been connecting with the breast cancer community and has been more vocal about women advocating for their own health. She continues to talk about her journey on her podcast. You can also find her on Instagram!