Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Up to now

Let me just start by saying that I'm no writer. The thought of a blog has always terrified me because looking back on past samples of my writing usually makes me cringe...(think 9th grade English class "deep thoughts" journal)
Ok, deep breath, here we go...

Three weeks ago I was officially diagnosed with breast cancer. The long of the short of it is that I had been experiencing problems in the breast feeding arena for months and finally decided to wean. Then came the lump we all thought was a blocked milk duct. The ultrasound and mammogram came back clear but by the time we got those misleading results it was obvious that something was wrong. "But cancer doesn't hurt", I told myself and my friends and anyone else I was trying to convince. "And something this big would have been obvious on a mammogram", I reasoned. "Not so", said the specialist that day.

I was alone in his office having convinced myself that I was overreacting and Corey should just stay home with Lyla because it was all going to be ok. He told me he was positive there "was a malignancy there" but we still needed a diagnosis so off for the MRI and biopsies I went. Everything was rushed. Strings were pulled and favours were called in. All forms were marked urgent.

And so began the worst week of my life. I went from being in total denial, to very angry, to so unspeakably sad. What would Lyla and Corey do without me? At this time only family knew. We didn't want to worry any of our friends until we actually had some concrete information to share. But after a very tearful phone call to my biggest brother I realized how helpful it was to talk it through. And so we slowly started to tell our friends and asked them to spread the news because truly nothing has been more difficult then uttering the damn C word. And as people began to find out I began to hear survivor story after survivor story. I tell you, nothing makes me feel better than cancer survivor stories these days. Now filled with considerably more hope, I was ready for the news.

Less than a week later it was confirmed that I had triple negative breast cancer. Don't Google that if you don't want to be freaked out. Those were actually the words my oncologist said to me. Yes it's large (11cm across - too big to operate on right now), yes it's aggressive, yes it's spread to several of my lymphs nodes. We're still waiting on the final scans to come back that will rule out metastasis, so until then I'm at stage 3. And that completes the bad news portion of this entry.

The good news is that this tripple negative cancer responds particularly well to chemo. You have no idea how precious that sentence is to me. As soon as I heard it I felt better. I can do chemo. I've seen that Julia Roberts movie where she took care of that cancer patient. I know it's not that bad anymore. Bring on the chemo!

Bring it on they did. There is a normal 6 week wait to get on the chemotherapy treatment schedule. I was on it within 6 days. I'm grateful that it happened too quickly for me to really appreciate how scared I was. My first treatment was 10 days ago and I'm definitely on the "good days" portion of my cycle. There was nausea but the fatigue was worse. And for the first time in my life I didn't have an appetite. Not exactly how I planned on losing those last few baby pounds, but hey, I'll take it.

The worst part for me though was actually the guilt. Guilt over being too sick to go to my baby when she was giving my husband a hard time. Letting others take over Lyla-care has been the biggest adjustment. But having gone through my "bad days" it's become a black and white issue. I'll need the help. I am truly and deeply thankful to have the family I do. I have my pick of sitters and a rock star husband that takes over the house the minute he steps in the door from work.

And now for the sappy portion of this entry... I'm so so grateful for my family and friends. I have a ridiculously blessed life. My biggest problem these days is trying to get back to all the people reaching out to me. Please know that I am getting all the messages and that they all mean so much to me. I'm saving them all and I've been re-reading them when I've been down. I've got a lot to fight for. And I do intend to fight. If you want to hear more about my fight, come back here.

With much love,


  1. You're a great writer. I'm thinking of you.

  2. Oh Ashlyn I am thinking of you every day. I know you will beat this. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  3. I am so sorry to hear this, but it sounds like you've got a great attitude and support system. You will definitely beat this and be one who can share her survivor story with others. Thinking of you.

  4. Ash - YOU are the "ROCK STAR"! You are constantly in my thoughts & prayers. I KNOW you'll beat this thing!
    Thanks for sharing your story - maybe writing is your next career?

  5. Ashlyn I'm so glad you decided to blog about your journey. I'll be coming along with you and sending a crap load of love and positive vibes your way. Cancer ain't got NOTHING on your amazing spirit, strength and courage. xo.

  6. Ashlyn we are thinking of you all the time. I love that you have set up a blog. You are amazing. I share your story with everyone as it is important for everyone to know that this could happen to them. If you need a babysitter let me know. Also can you add me as a friend on Facebook. Take care, Claire

  7. I'm sorry I didn't know earlier, but I'm shocked and saddened by this news. I'll send good thoughts, and wish you all the best in your recovery. And when it's all over, we'll go and have some flower pot baked bread in Waterloo. Good luck, and take care.

  8. Hey Ashlyn, was really shocked and saddened by the news. Our thoughts and prayers are with you! You're a fighter and your spirit is something we all aspire to. If you need anything at all, give me a call/email. We're here for you. Take care and sending you hugs, Anoop.

  9. Ashlyn,
    We are sending big hugs and lots of fighting power from Calgary. We just had a 38 yr old friend of ours HER2 positive fight and win and is currently in remission. You will win this battle too. Lots of love and hugs,
    Corrie and Steve Banks