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8 years. 5 months.

July 20, 2018 7 Comments

8 years. 5 months.

To the day.

Today is bittersweet. This day marks 8 years and 5 months since I heard the three scariest words of my life. You. Have. Cancer.

It was a day before my 28th birthday.

I stood in my childhood home, the one my Mom still lives in. The home my father built with his own hands. The home filled with memories. The home that would raise and mold me. Where my memories reside. From a small child with chickenpox to my first middle school dance and every birthday in between. Memories of those best friends who stood by me through thick and thin. The home in that quiet little town, where my act of rebellion was to sneak out and meet my friends under the vacant street lights. The home I would leave at the age of 18 to pursue my dream of becoming a fashion designer. The home I returned to many years later for my bridal shower and to celebrate that I’d found the one.

There I stood, in that home… and I received the news that would change my life as I knew it. That day is forever engraved in my mind. THE WORST DAY of my life. It was just the beginning. The beginning of my life, my career, my destiny and then bam, breast cancer.

28 year old woman undergoes a mastectomy
 
The world spins in circles, but I stand still. I am stuck in a vortex that no 28-year-old should be in. Young women don’t get breast cancer, or so I thought.

Fast forward 8 years and 2 months later. I have hit a wall. My mind and body has been given to cancer. Treatment took over, every day a shot or a pill. The doctor’s appointments are plenty and the scans endless. A pain leads to a scan, leads to a consult, leads to a shot, leads to a pill, which leads to yet another pain. The vortex.

 

My mind goes back to that day standing in my home and receiving the phone call. The call to tell me that I would “have” cancer, but didn’t explain to me that I will always “have” cancer. No matter how hard I will myself to forget, I can’t. On the days that should be the best days of my life, cancer is still there. It crept in on my wedding day, the launch of AnaOno, the birth of my god-son. It was there at the ground-breaking runways of NYFW, and when the Today Show listed me as a style icon. It would rear it’s head the day I discovered AnaOno made the WWD trend report lists and the day I hired my first employee. Cancer was there as I secured investment to bring AnaOno to you, the people that need it most.

Today Show Style Icons 

So today, 8 years and 5 months later I sit here… not “cancer free,” but with no evidence of disease. I’m no longer on a treatment plan to “hopefully” keep the cancer calmed in my body and stop it from progressing into other life -threatening organs.

I am not “cancer free” because cancer is always there. It is the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the first word that comes to mind when any ache, pain, or “off” feeling arises. THAT IS CANCER.

Today, after 18 months of discussion, I hear from my oncologist that we’ve come to an informed decision. My days here on earth are to be filled with things “non-cancerous” from here on out. This quality of life decision did not come easily, but it is a decision I made for me, with the support of my doctor.

Now, to find some level of peace to say I did all I could do. This decision does not stop my cancer from returning, those odds are the odds. We know that 1 out of 3 people diagnosed with breast cancer will metastasize. I know this. I’ve seen it. But, the world should know this!

That is why my work with Project Cancerland and METAvivor is important and means so much to me.  If it isn’t me, it will be a friend. It will be someone I love and that I care about. Without a cure for breast cancer we all lose.

But today, I am thankful for every single day; all 4,530 days I have had here with those I love and care about so deeply. Today is a day I will remember forever. It will always be clouded by cancer, that fog has yet to lift for me. But today I am grateful, I am hopeful, and I am thankful. Today I get to share with the world why every day is so important, and why not a moment goes by that I do not attempt to fill with joy, laughter, and happiness. But then there are days that the darkness rolls in, I will forever remember my sisters I have lost. I will think about those that we can and will eventually save. Every day is a new day. Every day I pledge to love myself and love others. At the end of today, that is what I have.

Today. July 20, 2018.

 Penn Medicine Breast Oncology

Thank you to everyone that has been on this rollercoaster with me, supported myself and the building of AnaOno, and to everyone that has taken their diagnosis, used it, and made a difference in the lives of others that are walking along the same unpaved, pot-holed, destructive path we all have. From the bottom of my heart, Thank You.

 

With you, I know that I am Never Alone®.  





7 Responses

Lisa Lurie
Lisa Lurie

August 09, 2018

Dana,
You express yourself so beautifully. Not only through your wise words but with AnaOno as well. Thanks for sharing this.

Michele
Michele

August 09, 2018

This is beautiful. You are very inspiring. I wish you the best life has to offer. I think of you often. Thank you. XO Michele

Debra Frank
Debra Frank

August 09, 2018

Thank you for all you do… God bless you!
Xo

Diana
Diana

August 09, 2018

You are such an inspiration! Your heartfelt story brought tears & hope. Thank you for your passion & badass attitude in the fight for all of us! Together, we need to be heard & the world does need to know that cancer-free is not a reality. The new reality is exactly what you said, “1 out of 3 people diagnosed with breast cancer will metastasize.” YOU are never alone! xoxoxo

Cecilia
Cecilia

August 09, 2018

Dana- Thank you for sharing your journey. Your strength, courage, and passion are an inspiration to me! Congratulations on another milestone and beginning another new chapter. You are loved!

Susan Haigney
Susan Haigney

August 09, 2018

I understand sending love and hugs. I’m 5yrs cancer free from tripple negative double mastectomy. What a roller coaster ride medication worst ever experience chemo and radiation. Would not do it again, but cancer free comes with a price, the what if!
xxxooo

Amelia Smith
Amelia Smith

August 09, 2018

Thank you for sharing
An inspiration to us all..Hugs

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