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At 33 I was home with my then infant son watching his every move, recording his achievements, cleaning house, and of course feeling quite exhausted. I remember teetering down the hall one day trying to get him ready for an outing when I felt the hall shift to one side, almost as if someone had tilted the entire house. I held on to the wall and stopped for a moment to catch myself. I was never one to have dizzy spells or feel as if I was going to faint, it is just not something I ever faced.  Concerned, I remember sitting on the floor for a moment in the cool dark hall talking to myself. ” Maybe you need to eat something or you need water?” I questioned myself although I ran my mind back in time and all of those things checked off fine. I was not sleeping through the night quite yet but I still felt as if I was getting enough sleep. I passed it off and managed to get up and get us out the door to our outing for the day.  That was not the only issue I had during this time, I would have strange headaches and need to lie down giving myself a moment from my son at least when my husband came home from work.  I now realize this many years later, there was no balance in my life. I was not allowing myself to get out on my own, take naps, enjoy a glass of wine and some music. I was a robot who was at my child’s every need. I wanted to make sure he was ok and that made me feel like a better mom.

I did not realize what would come at me just a few months later that would jerk me into surviver mode for myself.  As my son was turning one I found a lump in my right breast. I did not think it could possibly be cancer. I went to the doctor and initially it was thought to be a clogged milk duct from breast feeding. I was tapering off the breast feeding bit so I wasn’t sure if for the small amount that I was feeding it should cause a clog. I was relieved though and decided to put my head in the sand, not go forward with the biopsy which would have given me THE most accurate result. I was scared. I did not want to face something so sinister. I looked at my son with confusion, there is no way God would allow this to be part of my plan. No way. Well, it was part of His plan, I would go in for a follow up just couple months later and the radiologist would demand for a biopsy as the lump had grown. The entire world melted away for me. I was standing on a sliver of ground with deep dark canyons around me. My family they were on the other side of the canyon. I was balancing trying not to fall. This is how it felt…helpless, dark, devastating. The next few months would mean relying on myself to cope. We had part time help come in and help with my son, which at first was a huge adjustment for me. I was quite depressed to have someone take care of my child, as this was my job.  I had to learn to let go. The laundry was piling up, dinner was take out a lot of the time, the house was not always clean. I would find myself in bed most of the time trying to rest.  I felt guilty not being able to take care of things as well I could before. Yet, my body needed me to rest and to take things at a slower pace. To relax and not have myself scurrying about the house or filling up our schedule was actually a relief. Yet I still needed to find the balance of being able to take care of myself and be on the front line for my family.

I would finally get through treatment and would also face an immediate recurrence so that would require me to have chemo for an additional three months and radiation to my neck area. I would then decide don’t have time to waste on cancer. Yes, I needed to take care of myself but that didn’t mean I had to lay around and put my life on hold. I needed to listen to my body of course. When I got tired I needed to listen to it. When I felt good then I would be able to go full steam ahead. I then was healing up and learned that more was needed when it came to swimwear for women who have had surgery for breast cancer. I was gaining my energy so with that came the ability to start the planning stages of the brand I wanted to make. It was to help women like myself find swimwear fit for their bodies, giving them more options. The balance of starting the brand, taking care of myself, being a mom and wife would be a challenge but I knew it was important to find the balance. I would create a schedule as best as I could. The mornings consisted of dropping my son off at preschool, then I would go home or go to meetings for the day to work on the collection. I would then pick up my son and leave the afternoons and evenings to family time. Of course this did not always work but life is NOT perfect. I was trying to make it perfect in the beginning by being the best mom and only putting all my energy towards being that person. I was forgetting who I was and no I do not think because I was overworked the cancer developed. In fact the doctors feel the cancer might have been there before I was pregnant. Interesting right?

So now what is my life like? Well, I am here in chemo again, seven years later. I am still working on my collection which is now a resort wear collection. My son he is in elementary school and is thriving. I do have moments of guilt if I am facing a deadline for a fashion show or meeting I may not be able to help him with his homework, Dad fills in, or I get tired and cannot take him out to see friends. Yet, I remind myself it is all a balance. A balance is a fine way of going through life. It is a teeter totter effect. It will never be perfect but hopefully one can catch themselves before things become lopsided.

I hope that my story will help you or someone in your life. Please share if you might know someone who may need to hear my story. I strongly encourage someone you know and love to read, it may help them. xoxo

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