SkyCastleLife is about one woman’s journey, as she learns to PLAY the game of life. It is about her doing her best to create joy and happiness even in some unlikely circumstances. It is about LIFE; the ‘good’, the ‘bad’, the ugly and the beauty.
Just over four years ago at age 34 and a couple months into my new relationship, I found out I was pregnant. Four weeks later I was diagnosed with breast cancer and advised that to receive the treatment I required I would have to terminate my pregnancy.
My Mom helped me shave my hair off as soon as it started falling out.
On top of that, the recommended chemotherapy gave me a sixty percent chance of infertility or early menopause. How could I terminate and maybe never have a child!?
I am someone who bought pregnancy books at age eighteen because it fascinated me. I worked in childcare for ten years and then became a teacher. I LOVE CHILDREN! A panel was created to go over my unique situation. Sadly, I miscarried ten days after my diagnosis.
A week later had a lumpectomy, followed by six rounds of chemo and thirty five days straight of radiation. I completed my treatment January 5th 2009 ironically on what was to have been my “due date”.
Doctors told me it could take up to two years before we would find out the state of my fertility. Well, five weeks after my last radiation appointment, and to everyone’s total surprise, I had become pregnant. Cheers to giving it up on Valentine’s Day!
Photo by Shealyn Jackson
I now have a happy, healthy and beautiful daughter named Zoey born November 7th 2009.
Zoey 5 days old.
Photo by Shealyn Jackson
A couple of months after Zoey was born I found out that I tested positive for the BRCA1 “cancer gene”, and there is a 50% chance I may have genetically passed it on to her. As a precautionary measure, a year ago I had a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, the removal of both fallopian tubes and both ovaries. This procedure put me in full on menopause at age 37. In 2013 I will be having a double mastectomy and the TRAM flap procedure (transverse rectus abdominus myocutaneous) a tissue flap procedure that uses muscle, fat and skin from your abdomen to create a new “breasts” after a mastectomy.
I have gained over 50 pounds in those 4 years. Chemo made me nauseous, weak and like I was VERY hungover for about 5 months, but I gained 25 pounds. Then I had a baby and gained a few more. Then the kicker for me that brought on even more emotional eating and lack of “get-up-and-go” was, my Nana (my Dad’s Mom), my Dad and my Uncle (my Dad’s brother) all passed away over a year and a half span. My Dad was a big part of my life. I cannot really express how important he was to me and the BIG and wonderful roll he played in making me who I am.
My Dad & Zoey.
Life has been full of BIG ups and BIG downs and in all of this I have become numb, at times disconnected from my body, my sensuality, my physicality, my love of life. Not only have I become heavier, I have become slower, weaker and less flexible in my physical self. Cancer, surgery, pregnancy, children, death and loss, a myriad of relationship crap, surgically induced menopause, weight gain, scars, and stretch marks are not all that great for my body image.
I also have gained a new sensitivity to the beauty of life. I now cry regularly when I get so full of how wonderful it all is. The simplest things break my heart, out of joy, not sadness. The last 5 years have changed me and I am just now getting some time and space to let it all integrate. I sit at times looking around and I wonder, “How did I get here?”, like I fell asleep and recently woke up. It’s unnerving and exciting all at the same time. I do my best to view it as an exciting awakening and a new beginning. I am ready to step back into my life and be more present, live and make choices with intention.
Today I mark my journey to creating something new by publishing my first blog. I am about to come through the other side of a bunch major life transitions while beginning some new ones. I want to share it all to somehow make it more solid and real and in my experience the good stuff of life is always better when you can share it others.
I hope you will enjoy the journey with me.