I was asked to write this blog months ago, but honestly I never could find the words. Now, I think I’m finally ready to share.
11 months ago I was in Dr. Ann Lafranca’s office for a routine annual exam, completely oblivious to the disease that was about to rock my world. The previous year Dr. LaFranca had mentioned that she’d like me to schedule a mammogram with my next annual appointment since I was about to turn 35 years old. I went in for that initial mammogram and nothing has been the same since.
Within a couple days I received a phone call that they wanted additional imaging. Again, I didn’t worry too much because I felt fine and just figured they wanted to get a good baseline scan. It wasn’t until the ultrasound tech measured one spot over and over that I had a bad feeling. When the radiologist, Dr. Ruiz came in to speak to me, I flat out asked him if it was bad. His exact words were “it’s small, but it doesn’t look good”. From that moment on, my life would never be the same.
I left the ultrasound room, immediately selected my breast surgeon Dr. Cecelia Cuntz, visited her, and came back down for the biopsy. All on the same day! Alone.
When I selected Dr. Cuntz I didn’t realize how important that decision truly was. The selection of my surgeon basically laid out the rest of my team of doctors. It’s important to note that I could have selected whoever I wanted and/or gotten multiple opinions, but at that moment my mind was in such a fog and I was alone (because of COVID). Needless to say, I absolutely love my team of doctors.
The care that I received during my time at Woman’s and the Breast and GYN Cancer Pavilion has been incredible. From my amazing OB-GYN Dr. LaFranca advocating for early mammograms, the nurses in the biopsy room praying over me and crying with me, Dr. Cuntz explaining everything to me in great detail, my preop- and post-op nurses making sure I was comfortable and had everything I needed, Mrs. Dee greeting me at the front door with a smile every day, Dr. Zatarain listening to all my fears of chemo, all the infusion nurses going into full nurse mode as I had a reaction to my last chemo, Dr. Castle and my fabulous radiation techs- Jessica, Jourdan and Yolanda, Chalisse and all the staff at Woman’s Center for Wellness. I could go on and on about all the wonderful care I’ve received. You are truly cared for when you come to Woman’s and I would absolutely recommend the Breast and GYN Cancer Pavilion, a partnership with Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center to anyone and everyone.
Being able to be treated in one location made the process so much easier. I’m a mom of two young girls, ages 4 and 8, so being with my children and keeping their lives as normal as possible was extremely important to me.
I didn’t want my girls to be afraid of what I was going through and I wanted to be around for all of their daily activities as much as possible. This was another reason that I decided to try cold capping. When I first found out I needed chemo, the first thought that crossed my mind was “I’m going to lose my hair.” I mentioned this to some friends of mine over the next few weeks and a couple mentioned having friends who did not lose their hair by cold capping. I immediately started doing my research and started talking to women from all over the country who had done it.
Cold capping involves freezing your scalp to reduce the amount of chemotherapy that reaches the hair follicles. There are certain chemotherapy regimens where cold capping yields better results than others, but I am very pleased with my results. Most people look at me now and cannot believe that I went through chemo.
There are times where I feel guilty that I have hair when others don’t, but I made the decision to save my hair because I wanted life to remain as normal as possible for my family.
Cold capping was not easy, and it was definitely a commitment for much longer than just chemo, but it’s a decision that I would make 100 times over again and would recommend it to anyone who is willing to give it a try. I am also more than happy to talk about the process with anyone who has a desire to save their hair. I believe it helped me bounce back and keep a sense of normalcy in my life because I didn’t look like a cancer patient to the outside world. For more information on cold capping, visit www.rapunzelproject.org.
I am now four and half months PFC (Post Final Chemo), 2 months out of radiation and preparing for my implant exchange surgery in August. When I was told on August 5, 2020 “it’s cancer” and was given the “My Journey” notebook, I did not truly grasp how much of a journey I was about to go on. I knew I wanted that cancer out of me as fast as possible, but it has truly been a long journey and it’s not over yet. To anyone just starting your journey, breathe, pray and have faith. You are in the best hands here and they will guide you through it!