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Even Though I Didn't Need Chemotherapy, Cancer Changed Me

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The other day I was told that my cancer is an “easy” one, and I will have no recurrence. Easy one? A breast cancer survivor said this to me because I only had a lumpectomy and radiation. I don’t believe any cancer is easy. That being said, I do believe I have had it easier than many people with cancer, mainly because I didn’t need chemotherapy, and it didn’t spread to my lymph nodes. But it has definitely changed me.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September of 2018, I was shocked, scared and unsure of the future. But I wasn’t surprised something was wrong. Over that summer, I gained weight very fast and was extremely fatigued. I am a moderately active person (who could be happy being lazy and watching Hallmark and Lifetime all day), but I was not a person who took two hour naps every day after work. Yet last summer, that is what I did, so I knew something was up.

I feel like in some ways I have had the best case scenario for something serious. I didn’t test positive for BRCA1 or 2 gene mutation, even though Ashkenazi Jews have a high chance of having them. I had a lumpectomy and not a mastectomy. I was Stage 1, had radiation but no chemo and am now on a five year course of Lupron injections and a daily pill to reduce the chance of recurrence. But the weight gain, fatigue and joint pain from my medicine is very real. Do I sometimes think I am being a wimp? Of course. Do I sometimes want to hibernate until my five year hormone therapy is over? Yep. Do I think this is an easy cancer? I don’t believe any cancer is easy. They are different. Some are harder than others. Some are easier than others. But no cancer is easy.

I envy the people who say cancer hasn’t changed them. Cancer has definitely changed me. My body feels older than its 49 years. There are definitely negatives. But there are so many positives. More of an appreciation for family and friends. More of an appreciation for life. Taking time to slow down and enjoy moments that were taken for granted before. More empathy for others. A lot more empathy for others. And the biggest positive has been my support system of friends and family who since day one have been Team Jodi.

A group of women wearing pink shirts and one holding a Team Jodi sign

Everyone has a struggle, whether it be cancer or another illness, the death of a loved one, financial struggles or daily issues with raising kids. I could go on and on. Basically, everyone has an obstacle in their path. Are some easier than others to tackle? Of course. Would I call any “easy”? No.

Follow this journey on I’m Team Jodi

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Originally published: October 22, 2019
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