Monday, October 03, 2011

Breast Cancer: My story and a giveaway

As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month I thought I would kick it off with a summary of the last almost 5.5 months that I wrote for some friends recently.

How I'm (really) doing ....
It's up and down. One day is the good. The next day is so bad.

Surgery was hard. I didn't do well with it. I didn't do well with the pain medicine. I didn't know how often you use your chest muscles every. single. day. I didn't know how jarring and sad it would be to see my body for the first time after it. I didn't know how excited I would be the first time I could wash my hair all by myself again - learning to lift my arms again was hard work! But I also didn't realize how fast I get over it. How soon it would seem normal and how I quickly I would fall in love with my new boobs!

Chemo? The first medicine they gave me? Let me tell you - there were days I could barely get out of bed just to get to the bathroom. There were moments where I wondered if I could just quit and stop it. There were days I was pretty sure the cancer would have been better than chemo. Sometimes I just cried and cried. Other days I was so absolutely pissed off and just angry. So angry. There were moments where I just couldn't get over the unfairness of it all. There were moments where I was terrified that this might be the last summer I get with my family, where I wondered if the next Christmas would be the last.

I still have those moments. They come much less often. I'm mostly to the point where I've accepted it all. It sucks. It is unfair. It is hard. But it is what it is. And we'll get through it. I made it through the tough medicine {the medicine is so tough that even if my cancer were to ever come back, I will never get it again. It's so hard on your body it has a lifetime limit on it}. And we moved on to easier chemo (no, not easy chemo, just easier). But I am regaining normal. I am getting strong. Energy is coming back. Sickness is leaving.

I still have radiation to go. It will start at the beginning of October. 5 days a week for 7 weeks. Herceptin (a protein that is literally a life saver for women with my specific type of cancer and for which I will be forever grateful for) I will get every 3 weeks for one year, starting a few weeks from now. Final plastic surgery sometime in the new year. I will take tamoxifin for at least 5 years. My ovaries will come out before I turn 40. Sooner if they suspect even the tiniest thing going on with them. Follow-up scans and tests.

This isn't over yet. It won't be over, well, I don't know if I will ever feel it's over. But I really firmly believe the hardest part is over.

And really? All the love, and support, and kindness ... has been amazing. Even through it all, we have been so amazingly blessed. I feel like I've been just completely surrounded with love and understanding every. single. step. of the way. And that? That has trumped and been more powerful than every bad, negative, scary, side effect and treatment along the way. 

And a giveaway:
One lucky commenter on THIS post will win a gift basket from P&G for leaving a story about how breast cancer has affected you. I know we all have connections and ties to breast cancer. I also know that sometimes these stories can be hard to share, but we are all here for you. Winner will be chosen on Oct. 10! I'm extending this to Monday, October 17!

In addition during the month of October, P&G has several programs going on:
- Save while you give. On Sunday, October 2, and Sunday, October 16, a GIVE Hope brandSAVER will be distributed in newspapers across the country, with discounts for P&G products, including Olay, Pantene, Crest and many more. For each GIVE Hope brandSAVER coupon redeemed, P&G will donate two cents to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) – allowing people to give back, while saving money.

- Share with friends. “Like” P&G Beauty on Facebook.  For every “like” at, P&G will donate 10 cents to NBCF to further support their mission of saving lives through early detection.  The P&G Beauty Facebook page will also feature stories from female employees who have been impacted by this disease.

- Buy, give and get.  During the month of October, consumers will receive a $10 rebate ( ) and will also trigger a $10 donation to NBCF with the purchase of $50 worth of P&G Beauty products, including Venus, Olay, Secret, CoverGirl, Nice ‘n Easy, Pantene, Safeguard and Ivory.

Disclosure information: I am working with The Motherhood and P&G and being compensated for my time. However, all opinions are my very own! 


  1. I love you for your ability to be real about this disease. My mom began her battle when I was in high school and I will never forget the day she came to me and asked me to wash her hair for her. She was so tough that I knew if she had broken down and asked ME for help, she was really in need. We both tried to joke through the tears as we each cried our way through the process. Then that Thanksgiving she had to stay in the hospital because of complications. When it returned years later I struggled through many holidays that she did feel well enough to spend with us until 2 years ago this month breast cancer finally stole her from me for good.

  2. Anonymous12:17 AM

    Brandie, you are my breast cancer story. I was shocked to my core when your mom called me with the news. I questioned everthing. So young. Younger than me. I am so glad you are able to share. All of it. That can't be easy. So I want to thank you. Thank you for letting me read about your fight. Thank you.
    Kelly Mendoza

  3. I've been following your journey and I appreciate your honesty in sharing your experience. Keep fighting!

  4. I've been following your blog for years, even though I don't comment much. It seems like you are too young, and I needed the reminded that it's not just for "old" people.

  5. You make it so accessible. I honestly think that what you write about the emotions and the hard parts - that will help other women who are going through treatment. Just amazing.

    I lost my grandmother to breast cancer when I was 9. She refused to see a doctor, even when, 20 years prior to her dx, she had an inverted nipple and puckering of the breast. To some extent, I don't know that she could have survived treatment back in the 60/70s....she was damn strong to have lived 20 years with it.

    I've thankfully came up benign when they found "suspicious" tissue during my breast reduction surgery (at 19). And yet, when I was scared I'd found something, they told me I was crazy, I didn't need a mammogram. I insisted, since I KNEW something was different - I said, hey, if I'm crazy, GREAT. Then it's just scar tissue growing/changing. But ease my mind. Again, nothing - but the fact that I noticed something and doctors tried to blow me off?? Just amazes me.

    ANYWAY - I've known too many women. Too many survivors, too many in treatment, and too many that are lost. Kudos to you for sharing your experience - I hope that someone in the middle of dx or beginning treatment can find some hope, some solace, reading your words.

  6. There is so much to say about my life after breast cancer activity has lessened these few years after surgery, chemo, reconstruction, radiation, then lymphedema, heartache, pain, therapies for pain management...but, wait. There's more. Now my daughter is battling breast cancer with more heart and courage than I ever dared to even try to exhibit. She is going through this medical odyssey with grace. And she has never asked "why me"?

    God bless you, Brandie, and all who deal with this adversity. Nancy

  7. Thank you so much for sharing. I found your site from another blogger. I too have breast cancer and small kids (1, 3, 7). I have stage 4 because it spread to my spine. At the time of diagnosis I had a 6 month old. I am a year out of treatment and it does get better! I am stable right now but had to work very hard to get where I am. Having cancer is not easy! When I read your story I cried because I had the same thoughts. Radiation to me was "easier" but a daily reminder that you have cancer.

  8. Bradie,
    This was beautiful... and a true testament to your faith and strength during all of your treatments. You are in our thoughts!!! You are a serious warrior!!!
    We are behind you all the way...

    As you may know.. breast cancer took our beloved grandmother Elizabeth, who we named one of our hospital gowns after. She was amazing.. this was a long time ago.. we were in high school.. there have been so many advancements in treatments. She was a warrior... and I think that is the perfect work to describe her and you ... who fight with their heads up... grace... and a positive attitude! We are thinking of you as you take on your radiation treatments...
    Anna & Selena

  9. I am so thankful that you are the only person I've ever known to have breast cancer. I hope you're the last, too.

    Love you, babe.

  10. Anonymous8:57 PM

    I love that you are honest about everything, the good and the bad. I often can't find the right words to comment on your posts, but they always touch me.

  11. I was just looking for giveaways to enter and then I found this and now I am crying my eyes out. To be completely honest, I try not to think about breast cancer. It's because I hate it so much. The first instance of death I ever encountered in my life was because of it. My aunt passed away in April of 2002 after battling since before I was born. She spent 2 decades of her life dealing with it and she was still the kindest and most gracious person I have ever known. When she really went downhill near the end I wanted to go and see her more and more but she looked so bad I couldn't or didn't want to see her that way. So I ended up going even less. The night she passed away, my family sped to her house and we all just cried. And even to this day it feels like it was a dream. I look back and see it all so clearly and wish that I had done more while she was still here. But I can't change the past. So I just push it out of my mind. I can not even conceive of how someone could go through such an ordeal. I pray God sends strength and peace to anyone who has ever been touched by the sting of cancer.

  12. Sarah J.7:41 PM

    I can still remember the day you told me you had cancer. I was on my way to Joanne fabrics and sat in the parking lot talking you for over an hour.
    Breast cancer has effected ones that I hold very close to my heart. My aunt was first diagnosed when she was very young. I know she had both of her breasts and her ovaries removed. She was a wonderful women who always made you feel like you where the most important person in the room. We became pen pals when I was 7 and at first I would draw her pictures of where I was at, she would send me postcards from her travels. As i got older and could go places on my own I could not leave without getting a postcard for her. My mom suggested that keep all her postcards. She lost her fight 5 years ago and I still cry whenever I think of her. At her funeral my uncle gave me a box of most of the postcards I had sent her. My first trip after she died I stood by the postcard rack and cried. My husband suggested I buy one and put it in her box. My mailbox seems so empty, it was really nice to get her postcards, you know a smile amongst the bills.
    You have opened my eyes to side of breast cancer I never saw. Not just how it effects the person but how it has effected everyone that person knows. I know you are fighting as hard as you can and I pray for you everyday!

  13. Too late for entry, but never to late to offer a virtual hug and tell you what a strong woman you are!


Seeing your comments makes me smile! Thank you so much =)