The CHAARG Podcast

#39] Anna Wassman: Breast Cancer Warrior At Age 25

October 23, 2018
The CHAARG Podcast
#39] Anna Wassman: Breast Cancer Warrior At Age 25
Chapters
The CHAARG Podcast
#39] Anna Wassman: Breast Cancer Warrior At Age 25
Oct 23, 2018
CHAARG

Two months before graduation, Anna [@annamazingjourney] noticed a lump on her breast. When she got a biopsy, the doctors assured her that she was "too young for the lump to be serious" -- but, a week later, she found out that she had breast cancer, Stage IIa HER2-positive. In this episode, Anna talks all about her breast cancer journey -- bilateral mastectomy, IVF, chemo ++ the physical, mental, + emotional rollercoaster that has resulted. You'll instantly be able to feel her positivity, courage, + strength. Her mantra: You don't know how strong you are until strong is the only option you have. <3

Notes:
-- Book Recs: The Definitely Decade + Lean In
-- Podcast Rec: Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations
-- TV Rec: This Is Us
-- Gilda's Club Chicago
-- Immerman's Angels
-- Susan G Komen Chicago
-- The Breasties: @the_breasties on IG
-- It's Mary K's Blog -- Anna's Interview
-- People Mag -- Anna's Article

Show Notes Transcript

Two months before graduation, Anna [@annamazingjourney] noticed a lump on her breast. When she got a biopsy, the doctors assured her that she was "too young for the lump to be serious" -- but, a week later, she found out that she had breast cancer, Stage IIa HER2-positive. In this episode, Anna talks all about her breast cancer journey -- bilateral mastectomy, IVF, chemo ++ the physical, mental, + emotional rollercoaster that has resulted. You'll instantly be able to feel her positivity, courage, + strength. Her mantra: You don't know how strong you are until strong is the only option you have. <3

Notes:
-- Book Recs: The Definitely Decade + Lean In
-- Podcast Rec: Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations
-- TV Rec: This Is Us
-- Gilda's Club Chicago
-- Immerman's Angels
-- Susan G Komen Chicago
-- The Breasties: @the_breasties on IG
-- It's Mary K's Blog -- Anna's Interview
-- People Mag -- Anna's Article

spk_0:
00:04
huh? Hey, guys. Welcome to the charge podcast today. I had my friend Anna Wasserman with me. She is officially done with chemo for breast cancer. Oh, my gosh. When was that? Was like, last week, wasn't it? Yeah,
spk_1:
00:20
Uh, two weeks ago, I think.
spk_0:
00:22
Oh, my gosh. How does it feel?
spk_1:
00:24
Feels good. I feel like I'm finally starting to get my strength back. And finally, like getting back to whatever normal is now.
spk_0:
00:31
Yeah, I was so excited to have you on this podcast just because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it has been so cool Toe watch your journey through instagram. Interesting in person. How courageous you've been this entire time. And so I'm really excited. Thio just understand your whole journey both physically but also mentally, emotionally, spiritually And how breast cancer has had, of course. Ah, humongous impact on your life. Something that you probably never expected.
spk_1:
01:05
No. Yeah, well, thank you for, um, you and I'm excited to share my story. And also just, you know, in the spirit of breast cancer awareness month, like, actually raise awareness and show people put like that face to what breast cancer in its especially young breast cancer.
spk_0:
01:18
Absolutely. Before we done interior journey, I'd love for you to share with us who you are and what you like to
spk_1:
01:25
D'oh. So I'm Deanna for anyone who doesn't know me. I'm originally from Southern California from a small beach town called Seal Beach. People have never heard of it, but I grew up there, and I used to do ballet professionally. So I left high school early to move to San Francisco to train with the San Francisco Ballet. That was my life. For a while, I moved back to L. A. You know, I think I was, like, 17 18 to be, like, freelance stuff. All that and then I kind of decided, you know, I'm gonna take this to next step started Auditioning for a ballet company has ended up getting into Joffrey Ballet so that I moved to Chicago about gosh gets, like, 78 years now to dance with drop your ballet. So I was here from that, then kind of was there, did it was deciding Was that like my kind of like life path? What was going to dio ended up getting a couple injuries and was just like Okay, This is kind of life giving me a sign telling me Maybe this is not the best career path. And if you want, like, something else, like, maybe now's the time to do it. And so I took them seriously into heart, and I decided, you know, maybe a minute retire Lee and do that. So I talk for a little bit, took like, a year to kind of figure out what I wanted to dio. And then I ended up going back to school in Chicago. So I went to Loyola University, and I ended up just this past year graduating, and I guess I've been this past year. It's still staying here in May. Yeah, so that's, I guess, just a little bit about me. I majored in marketing. They're currently because of everything going on. Health wise, I'm not working, but I do have a job lined up in Mark mean and yeah, we'll see kind of what happens next.
spk_0:
03:03
Yeah, that's crazy that you said like last year, but it's actually this year, like this year for you, I'm sure, has felt so long it
spk_1:
03:15
has its felt so long and so sure and even just like so it's been six months since I was diagnosed. Six months? Yeah, it's been six months. In a weird way, I still feel like I'm stuck back in March when it happened. But then I also feel like life is going on and it was almost last year, but it's a weird, like my time frame of everything is so messed up. I'm always writing the wrong date on everything
spk_0:
03:37
I can imagine. Take us through when you first discovered that you had a lump in your breast. Yeah,
spk_1:
03:45
So, actually, if anyone is familiar with Mary, you know, she's been on the podcast before. I was at her book launch party the same day and I went home and I was, you know, I was just on my period. So things feel a little weird in general in your body. And I'm I've been always, like, big, only checking, especially monthly, you know, around like that time because you just never know what's gonna happen on. And I was literally just doing, like, kind of routine checkup, and I felt something else. Okay, that's not normal. Not normal for me, like I knew, like I being a dancer being like an athlete, You know your body so well. So if any little thing is off, you just you know it. And instantly I was like, This is not right so literally That was on Sunday. I call my doctor first thing, like, right as they opened Monday morning, gone in the afternoon. And, you know, she kind of, like, reassured me. She's like, You're fine, You're really young. Like this is also normal. If you're about to get your period like, let's just wait. Maybe like, 23 days, see if it goes away. All right. You like a script for an ultrasound just to you know, you have it for peace of mind. And I think only, like a day and 1/2 past and I was like, No, I'm going and from a soldier sound like I just need to know, um and I went in and I was like, kind of nervous because I just like I didn't know it was just an ultrasound. So So Okay, it's fine. It's not that bad on. And I just remember like the older sound tackling he reassured me was like your younger probably fine. But then He took a really long time and he kind of left the room for a while and came back. And it was just like you didn't say anything. But like, I kind of tell there was, like, a weird, like, underlying, like thing on. So I can't remember if this first time around I called my doctor right away, but I was just like, you know, Hey, what's going on? I just rumor. They're like, Hey, we want you to come back and get a biopsy. Just toe rule. Anything else? How it's It's definitely not assist, because typically, they can see, like if there is, like a fluid system, your breasts, which was very normal, that they can see that on the ultrasound. But it wasn't that so. They made me go in for biopsy, and I'm not kidding. That was like the longest week of my life. That was when I was like, Oh, my gosh, well, it was scary to have biopsy because they're going in there. They're like, you know, getting all this stuff was crying the whole time. No,
spk_0:
05:55
you earlier you was aware
spk_1:
05:57
so completely awake. They just numb the area and they go in and like, take a chunk of whatever you know, the object is that was in there. And so you didn't that I hate needles like, Oh, my gosh. Even to this day, I still hate needles. And I was like, you know, shaking I was, like, crying. I was like, No way. That is the worst thing in the world. Little did I know that I still go through, like, 10 times worse things than that. Yeah, And I remember I called my doctor's office like every single day, asking them because the ultrasound technician are in biopsy person. They were like, Yeah, you'll hear in, like, a day or two. So I called like that night. I help the next day and the day after that, I left like multiple messages, I think by haven't done on Monday by Wednesday. I think I called twice that day because I was like, We should know by now what's going on. And then Thursday morning, someone for my doctor's office finally called me back and they were like, Hey, we want you to come and I was like So that's not good news. Like anytime your doctor isn't just gonna call you and tell you what's going on. Like Ray, you're not expecting good news. You're expecting to, like, be sat down and like, someone to tell you something pretty bad. So I went in that day pretty much with the expectation that she was gonna tell me that. But I don't think you ever really, like expect that diagnosis. And she told me and it was kind of like I just like I went into shock and I was just like, you know, I just started crying. I was like, You know what? What I do and kind of, I guess, from my dance background And also, like, I went to business school like you get into this, like, planning mode. And I was in, like, you know, I was two months away from graduation. I was in, like, planning over school planning mode for the rest of my life. Like I knew exactly where what I was gonna do for at least the next year or two. And so I just immediately went into Okay, what do we have to dio like? Okay, you have to change my diet. Do I have to like you know what? What are the next steps. And at the time she was like, You know, she put me in touch with, like, a nurse navigator at ST Josephs, and she also, like, you know, wrote down like a script of what she thinks would be my next steps the name of a doctor, like things like that. And, you know, just like things to help you at least just kind of cope and figure out your plan. Well, I kind of wasn't like, I guess, in the right mindset, None. And it was also, like, end of the day on Thursday and this actually was the Thursday like, first day, my spring break. So I have, like, Friday off of classes. And so the next morning I was on the phone. I tried to call that same like nurse, never get her back. She apparently wasn't in the office, so I didn't hear back from her. And so I'm like, you know, I'm on the phone. My obviously told my parents, and that was like, I think when the hardest things to was tryingto were you by yourself when the doctor told WAAS Yeah, because I'm very I'm just I think living in the city being here by myself, since I was, like 18 19. Like I'm just used to go into the doctor by myself. I'm used to doing everything by myself, So it just was kind of it. It's normal for me to just handle it on. So it was very like, weird Thio be calling people instead of like, actually telling a person. And, you know, one of my like, my best friend since we were like, nine years old, she ended up like coming over later that night, like, which is very aware of everything that was going on, like even like the test of them's having done so. I had, like, those support, but it was like it was like four. PM so people were still at work like it was a very like, weird time of the day. Remember, I left my doctor's office and I was like wandering around Lincoln Park just like just a walk and like, clear my mind and I was like, What is going on right now? So yes, it was just it was crazy. But then the next day, I, like, sat down, started to research, called my Dad, who you actually met? Mikey knows, But he's a geneticist so called him, and I was like, Hey, what it's like, What's your recommendation? I was also calling Ask Malik Family History because, you know, at this point we hadn't done the other test further to see if it was genetic to see wasn't it was just asking, like, where did this come from? Take the thing. But then what can I D'oh. So I ended up calling him. I called another one really good friend. She's actually out in California now. I called her because I know for her it runs in her family. So I called her to tell her what was going on. And then I ended up finding out her sister is actually like one of the really good breast surgeons in Chicago. So that's actually how I ended up kind of starting to find my team. So she was like, she called me back a couple hours and she's like, I don't know if you're interested, because this might feel a little weird, but my sister, this is what she does, she got least help walk you through till your next steps. Like we're refer you to someone. And so I called her, and I, like, left a message I think was like her assistant or someone she held me back are yet the doctor comes back and we talked for literally almost an hour, and she, just like, reassured me, was just really nice. Ended up putting me in touch with the nurse that you don't rush. And she set up all these appointments for me because I was like, I'm on spring break. Let's get everything done this week. Let's do every single test we need to D'oh! You know, it's like wasn't obviously just the biopsy anymore. It was had to have, like a CT scan. It had to have an m r. I had to have, like, a mammogram, like you have to have just so many things done because they need to know how they're gonna approach, whether it's surgery, chemo, like all this stuff, just to know, like what what they're dealing with and what type of like breast cancer is because their cycle type. So, you know, the first week of all this was like a blur, but I feel like I was just so grateful that I was able to, like, get in so quickly to her like team to meet all my doctors, too, because so her team, What I love about them is they're like these bad ass women. And it's just like from, like my surgeon, my plastic surgeon. My oncologist toe, like the radiologist I met with like everyone was just like they were just so understanding, so helpful, like and like, I was just I think I was also just thrilled that they're a woman. Yeah, that's just like you don't see that all the time, especially when it is something like your breast health that, like, you know, as a woman, I feel a little bit more comfortable with a woman doctor for something like this and not saying like, better, so great. And there's some great guy doctors out there. But I just instantly felt comfortable and was like, Okay, this is my team. Let's keep moving forward and let's do this next thing. So that's how you found them. And that was like, I think, the first week literally after diagnosis. So I knew what I was doing, like seven days later. Wow.
spk_0:
12:20
So when did they tell you where the breast cancer came from.
spk_1:
12:25
So they I want to say it was a couple. Maybe it was that same week, or maybe a couple days before surgery. Truthfully, I don't remember at this point, but I just remember, like talking to the genetic counselor before we did like the blood test or whenever it waas to test for the late Braca gene or what other other mutations I could have. I don't have the bracket gene, so that was like still think to this day. It's still kind of like a big mystery. I have something called Rad 50 which is like some other genetic mutation, but it's not necessarily linked to breast cancer. But maybe in 30 years after more research, they could be like, Hey, yeah, this is why at 25 you got breast cancer, but Tuesday we don't really know exactly what caused it, but we do know that it's very hormone positive. So it's like her two positive. I'm very high and, like estrogen positive pedestrian. So it's definitely like home related. It wasn't I don't think that means that it's necessarily more like I don't know, environment or food, but you never know it could be just a combination of everything that caused it. Um, yeah. So it's very much Portman positive. Were you on birth control before I waas? And so that was a big question that I asked my doctors because I was like, I've been on birth control. Think of Islamic for, like, 10 years at least. And so I was just like because, you know, it was helping regulate my periods. But then obviously this happens and it's hormone positive. You kind of wonder, like the two related name reassured me, Wasn't that so? I still, you know, you never know in the back of my mind I think I'm always like it was totally that. I don't know if that's the case days that it's not so You know what, the sir point? You just have to kind of like, Listen to your doctors. There's
spk_0:
14:08
so many things that affect your hormones to It's just birth control. I guess I was more so curious that you have to get off birth control. Yes.
spk_1:
14:15
Yeah. So that was actually like very, very first stop was immediately stopping birth control, which was also hard body because I been on birth control for so long. Like just that alone was, I think, a shock to my system. What happened? Um definitely got, like, a pretty bad period. Like right, right away on and I haven't had, like, that one's in a long time. So that was awful. But then it was just, I think also it was hard to know what was really going on because it was all of a sudden, you know, I went off for control, but then all the sudden, you know, I had surgery two weeks later and then surgery itself just kind of, like messes with your body. And then two weeks after that, I was going through, like, IVF, a fertility preservation. So there were a lot of other hormones that all of a sudden that I was starting and things. So my body should spend through, like the ups and downs of like, crazy and just not knowing what to do. But I have to say it's been pretty good at, like handling all the the craziness. So
spk_0:
15:14
yeah, it's pretty remarkable to see what your body can do. It
spk_1:
15:19
ISS. It's It's incredible, like even I was just thinking about, you know, what we're gonna talk about today. And I was like, Wow, my body's been through a ton. Like I didn't even know. I think I just still bent in such a like Let's keep moving for less Keep going on Like I kind of forgot that. Oh, yeah, I've gone through What? Yeah. So
spk_0:
15:39
Oh, my gosh. You mentioned getting surgery two weeks after. Yes. Wow. What did that surgery
spk_1:
15:45
look like? So the first order had waas the bilateral mastectomy. I technically did not need to have it first. I totally could have done chemo first, but personally, I just felt like the lump for me. Waas I just want to get this out of my body.
spk_0:
16:00
Was it only in one?
spk_1:
16:01
It was only a one. I was on my right side on, like when I felt it was just like I just want this thing out. Like I don't want to put any, like chemo drugs, My body. I don't know. It depends on the type of cancer too. Like I was lucky enough that they were able to treat it in this way of doing surgery first and then chemo. A lot of people I know they've got chemo first and then surgery, and that's perfectly fine, too. But I personally pushed for having surgery first. And so with the bilateral mastectomy, you have the option like you could do reconstruction right away. You can not also depends on your body. So I chose to see my plastic surgeon and I wanted to do reconstruction. Well, because, like my upper body is still a relatively thin, there was no enough skin to dio fool like, you know, move all the breast tissue, removed everything, remove the tumor and still have room for my skin to expand because also on my right side ended up losing my nipple, so they were not able to spare that time. But they were able to save the like left side. So now it's just I guess sometimes I just have to put a little like, pasty on one side when I wear dresses and nothing under, uh, but it's okay. I mean, I'm just happy that, like they were able to make him look good. So they do look good. I'm even with right now. I have expanders. So what that does is because my skin was somethin they can stretch it out so that I can still get to the size that I want to get without it, like causing problems. So they had to do that. And the ones you get done with your bilateral mastectomy. You have basically six weeks of recovery where you have limitations on like you can't carry more than £5. You can't lift your arms above your shoulders. You obviously for like, you physically can't like you're not supposed to, because it could actually like rupture God I sutures that they use. So that was like for me also, that was like, What? I can't do this. I can't like my laptop alone. And I purse weighs like pounds like I'm used to carry, like, a super heavy bag. So it was an adjustment, but actually So during this time, I was still in my like school crazy mode, work crazy mode and like life on DDE, it just happens that we were supposed to move at the end of March. So 10 days after my surgery, we packed up our entire apartment and moved downtown. So I was okay. I was still a lot of like pain meds at the time. and luckily removers. And luckily like I guess you're so the best friends. Like I had friends come over to help me pack. And then I had friends come meet us at any place and help us unpack. So I just got super lucky and yeah, so we made it happen. But sometimes you just you just have thio in on top of that. So with the bilateral mastectomy is just like going back. You have drinking's. So I had four drains coming out of the side just because when they removed that much of, like your natural breast tissue, I guess, like a lot of fluid jumbled up and they have to remove it somehow So they keep trains in you. So, like, two weeks after they finally were able to, I think get, like, two of them out and then, like another week later, another one. So by, like, four weeks out of surgery, finally didn't have drains, which was good. And I was happy to like, have was gone because they were just uncomfortable and annoying. They're gross, but yeah, so that was That was a lot. Thank goodness for Austin. He was my boyfriend. He was so helpful, like draining them And, like, you know, my mom was there, too. She flew out from California and she was, like, with me for, like, a couple weeks, like Bright during surgery after surgery. All that. So everyone was super supportive during this time, like helping me. And so it was just, you know, it's crazy. And that was just like the first surgery. So in a couple weeks later, I had fertility preservation, So that was just a crazy mom.
spk_0:
19:47
I'm like, Gosh, were you sad at all to lose a part of your body, or is it more so a feeling of Thank God this is
spk_1:
19:54
gone, I think was both. I think I really want to get the surgery. And someone just asked me the other day they were, like, you know, was surgery. The hardest part was like, actually, it wasn't because I just wanted to be okay. Andi, I feel I felt like surgery was just kind of like that's gonna get me better, eh? So I didn't feel as like, you know, attacks or whatever, but I think it was one. My doctor told me I couldn't keep my right nipple than I like kinda had a moment where I freaked out and actually, once I'm not a runner by any means. Like I did ballet like dance, yoga. Like all that, that's my stuff. But like cardio, not really. And the second I like, found out the day after I started, like running and literally I ran. I think I got up to, like, three, almost four miles before, like surgery. Just because I was so like it was the only thing. Like, I just blast tedium and my like headphones and I just start running and Mariah so sore, too. Like, why would I do this myself? But no, it helped, like you just helped me, like, clear my mind. And so I remember the most frustrating part of all of that, especially beginning Waas. Nothing. It would work out because it's always been such a big part of my life and something that helps me get my mind off things or makes me feel better. And when you go through a surgery like felt like you can't do anything like I just remember trying to, like, bargain with my P A. I was like, Hey, what can I do? Can I go todo Can I goto this? And he's like, You can walk on the treadmill on an incline And I was like, grade. That's so much fun. So that, I think, was the hardest part. So once I was finally able to, like, stretch and move and like, do stuff like that, like I finally started feeling like myself again. So
spk_0:
21:36
two weeks later, you got that I v f yes. What exactly is that? And what did that look like?
spk_1:
21:43
Yeah, So when you're this young and you're diagnosed with breast cancer, there is really high risk, Especially when you have to go through chemo that you cannot have kids naturally, like you become like, infernal and just like things happen. So what they did waas. They do this for women that want to try and have kids like, you know, at any point of life. And they're having a hard time. What you have to do is for almost like a two week period, or just depending on your body and how it's reacting. You have, like hormone injections, and so every night I couldn't do them to myself, but you basically have to shoot yourself up with, like, the's injections for 23 weeks out, like two weeks. Perhaps your body's like over produces your eggs, and then what they do is they put you under and it's probably the shortest surgery ever. I mean, it's still in base evidence still, like you're under and all that. But it was only like a 15 minute surgery, and they removed. I think I got, like, 19 eggs, so they were able to, like, freeze those. And so what that does is it just insures that if I wanna have kids later or like anytime, I still can. But there's still a possibility. Have them naturally, because what they do during or like right after I did, the fertility stuff is they put my body in menopause, and what that does is it shuts down your ovaries so that it protects them so that you know the chemo doesn't interfere, doesn't like her. Anything down there or like it helps prevent it from. It's still you know, you never know things, but yep, So my voice didn't menopause, so sounds like I don't know, April, So yeah, it's there was, like, hold a whole another change. There and I'm, like,
spk_0:
23:21
so many questions. Yeah. Okay, so I'm assuming you cannot have a period correct. Yeah, that's
spk_1:
23:29
in a weird way. It's been helpful because then that's like one less thing I have to deal with every month, especially while going through chemo and all that. Like, it's the last thing you want us to have cramps. So yeah. So I haven't had a period now since May. Yeah,
spk_0:
23:45
And then when you want to try to have kids, well, they put the eggs back into you because, well, that only mean you only have 19 times to try, so
spk_1:
23:56
it will just depend. So I could try naturally on with that There's, like, other things. So I guess, like part of treatment to it's like you have to be really careful with an especially because mine was forming positive. So, like, I have to be very like, really attract me, Doctor, I really monitor things cause there's even been talk of, like, post treatment. What do we do about me over is because they're the ones producing these hormones and stuff like that. And so it's like, OK, do we end up like even removing those You've been sold kids without your ovaries on. Especially because we saved my eggs weaken like you could. I don't know. You could do someone about, um yeah, modern medicine. This great. So, yeah, so I can still have kids, you know, I still carry them, but this is also just in case like anything else happens, and I may not be able to, uh, it really just depends.
spk_0:
24:45
Got it. So right now you are in menopause, but they can reverse that.
spk_1:
24:50
Correct. So then I just wouldn't be getting shots every month. So every month I get a shot called like LeBron, and what it does is it shuts down my ovaries on. So comes with all, like, the hot flashes, the weight gain, the like, all add stuff. That just is not fun.
spk_0:
25:07
When will they stop doing that? So
spk_1:
25:10
I think this past month was my last month of it. Because now that I'm done with chemo, I don't need to have those shots anymore to protect them. I think we may be shifting into a different type of, I guess. Like protecting the ovaries or things down there. I just I'm not exactly sure what our treatment plan is for that yet we're still kind of figuring it out, deciding, like talking to a doctor. And, you know, I still have some other things with my treatment that are coming up. So
spk_0:
25:40
this is a totally random question, but it just popped into my mind, and I don't even know if you know the answer. But let's say you have a baby. Will you still produce breast milk and will not only be in the left,
spk_1:
25:52
so I will not know they There is ways when they do the vasectomy to like semen. Or if you want to do just one side vasectomy until you have kids and save it, you can. I cannot now, because I chose, like, I knew that that was a rest going into it. I even asked my doctor about it. So, no, I will not be able to produce breast milk for my kids, but yeah.
spk_0:
26:15
Yeah, well, you still have your that part after that surgery. What happened next?
spk_1:
26:25
So after that surgery, I kind of got a nice break. So I had a month and 1/2 off, so I was able. Thio graduated from Loyola, and I actually, during all this, I was in the midst of planning my grad trip, So I took a trip to Bali and Dubai in between. All this and that was kind of my addressed moment of legs End in peace And, like, you know, I was finally healed enough from all my surgeries that I felt good. And I was like, you know, back to doing stuff and, you know, just everyday life that you kind of like don't realize is interrupted from all the surgeries. So I was able to go in this fun trip, and it was just amazing, and I felt great. But then the whole time, I was kind of like, just anxious because I knew when I got back, the big, scary chemo was coming. And for me, that's been like the hardest part, like by far. Just I don't know what it is. I don't know if it was just seem like I've had, like, my grandpa passed a couple years ago from stomach cancer. And so I think seeing him go through chemo, seeing other people go through it, I just didn't want to go through that myself. And so I think that was always just a really big fear. So the whole time on the trip, it was like I was in this beautiful like, relaxing paradise. And I'm sitting there trying to just relax and read a book or trying to meditate. And my mind was racing and I was almost We cut our trip short. We're supposed to actually go for almost a month just to like Southeast Asia and travel around. We ended up only going for, like, eight days. But by the end of those eight days, I was so ready to just give back home just to kind of not get back to treatment. But just get on with the process so that it was kind of just, you know, deal with it and be done. So yeah, so that was kind of just like that Next step. And then once I was back, chemo started. My first chemo was May 31st and it was just I was not I was not ready for it. Like, I definitely think we got back three or four days before I actually started. And then the first day had chemo. They ended up. Sometimes when you go through chemo they insert this thing called a port, and I ended up getting a poor inserted just because one being afraid of needles. Everyone knew it would be really hard for me to get an I V stuck in my arm every time. And then a lot of times of chemo you get really dehydrated. So your veins are actually really hard to find on that. Sometimes it can actually prove your veins. So same day as my first chemo, I went in for surgery that morning and I had my port inserted. What is it? Later, My, um so it's basically like a little catheter that they attached to, like when your main veins and mine. So I'm like pointing Thio my guess. Like trust or collarbone area matching? Never. Yeah, totally. And what it is, It's just like a little ball like you can kind of You can actually see
spk_0:
29:09
it. Okay, like raised a little bit stoned Marion underneath. So it's inside, and
spk_1:
29:15
what it has on it is like like a jelly like thing that the nurses can easily just stick a needle into, and then not easily like, you know, they could draw blood from it. they can do all my infusions for chemo. And they dio basically like whatever they need to do, like fluids, anything so can all go in and out of here. So I don't actually have to go through blood draws because that Oh, my gosh, I cannot tell you how many times I've had my blood drawn now and it gets old. Especially one, like, you know, some nurses air. Great. What? It's not like I leave there with giant bruises on my arms, so I'm very happy report. Well, you have taken out when I'm completely done with all my infusions. So kind of like during chemo, I've been doing chemo and the targeted therapy and the targeted therapy. I will still continue until May. So that's kind of just like part of the treatment. And because I breast cancer was so hormone positive. You do this certain type therapy and it actually helps prevent recurrence. So did you
spk_0:
30:15
have to go through chemo? Yes.
spk_1:
30:18
Yeah. So I was very upset about this because I was like, Well, yeah, I did the Violet Ray Donovan today like the cancer. Apparently, you have to have, like, a super like super early stage breast cancer to not have to go through it because there was that new, I guess, like study or something that came out like a couple months ago, That was like, Yeah, well, men may not need to get chemo anymore for breast cancer, and unfortunately, I'm not one of those people. It's like a very rare, like, you're, like a 1% of, like, everyone in this whole thing, that actually not so I ended up having to have it just because it could technically be microscopic somewhere or if it maybe I traveled somewhere else. My body like they just want to make sure that everything was just gone and taken care of. So that's why I had to do chemo and, you know, chemo Waas. I only had six rounds of it, but it was every three weeks. So, you know, it wasn't too bad, like my body like, definitely interested. But it just felt like it was over a longer period of time because it's so spread out. So I'd like I'd go in and feel really bad for, like, the first week, then my two and feel better. And by week three, it was like I was almost back to normal. But then I have to go in for another round of chemo.
spk_0:
31:30
You explain more what feeling bad was
spk_1:
31:34
like, huh? So I did not know what to expect when I first My first treatment was the worst. Just because I also, like, love to know, like, what's gonna happen at all points in time and not knowing how I was gonna feel was just, I think so scary. And that first weekend I was just like, waiting for it to hit way for it to hit and then, like, also hit like, because it's a couple days later, right? Yeah, the type that I was on. It hits like if I had treatment. Thursday is also Saturday morning or sometimes late Friday night, it would just hit me, and then I would be like, Yeah, I don't feel good now. Andi, Really? It felt like I was coming down with the flu and super hungover at the same time. And it was just like it was so uncomfortable. And then I had really bad, like body aches and like bone aches. And that was also from like, something else. They give you to, like, help boost your leg. White blood cells, which is, you know, it's great that they have this, but it has its own side effects now. So it was that plus then, you know, I'm just Nothing tasted good. My taste buds, like any round, would kind of go away for like, 3 to 5 days. Unlike water would taste bad and like, you know, all you want to do is drink water like hydrating stay 100. But like, there were some weekends where I just could barely drink it Like I feel so bad. I had to go through just like bottled water because I couldn't do tap water. I couldn't do just like Britta water. And it was like the weirdest thing like Austin was like, I don't understand why you can't drink water. And I was like, Yeah, it's super weird. I just can't taste it. Taste like dirt like you know it. Not everyone has these symptoms. It just depends on your body and how you react. And that was one of my weird things was just like I hated the taste of water. But of course you still drink it. And luckily I was able to go in for fluids the next week just to keep me hydrated. Keep me, Okay. Big gaps. It was that. And then a lot of indigestion. So just the type of, like, treatment. I was on it. That's just like one thing. So I never really like I never threw up, like you would think like they showed. You know, Hollywood always betrays like, chemo like, yeah, you're gonna be, like, throwing up uncontrollably everywhere. Like I think one time I got, like, sick because I couldn't swallow my pill that I was supposed to take it like, That's the only time I've thrown up during, like, you know, the five months of chemo that I had. And yes, it was really just more stomach stuff. And there were certain days where it would be, like, better in certain days where I just knew, like, avoid most foods because, you know, I found out the hard way that, like tomatoes, like anytime, tomato and my stomach, like week one do not get along. Like I said, we're having to go back to the hospital being like I am dying right now. Like, please help me. They're like Well, what did you eat? And I was like, I had some, like, you know, red sauce. And they were like, Yeah, that's your problem. And I was like, Oh, so I learned very quickly, like just to not eat any tomato products, like new like sauce, Like things like that. So super random, but yes. Oh, he's just saying, Yeah, I did not want eat that or anything like that.
spk_0:
34:35
Was there anything else that was forbidden?
spk_1:
34:38
Um, trying to think? Not really. I feel like everything. I was pretty. I tried to avoid, like, the fried foods and things like certain weeks. And, you know, basically the first week I was like pasta bagels because I like crackers because I said, Yeah, it was plain enough where, like, it wouldn't upset my stomach if I was, like, you know, having to run to the bathroom every five seconds. But it was just like enough to keep me, like, eating something. But then, you know, it wouldn't hurt my stomach. So it took a couple of times before I realized what it could be when it couldn't eat. And then I was always just, like, really cautious that first week by weeks two and three. I was always fine. And, you know, that was a whole nother story. But yeah, that first week. Plain food.
spk_0:
35:23
Yeah. Would you say your first chemo treatment was the worst?
spk_1:
35:28
Um, yes and no. So it was the worst in the sense of I no idea what to expect. But then I think my third treatment was actually the worst. What happened? I don't know how, but somehow I came down with a really bad cold. And it was, I think, because my like, blood count was all messed up. And, you know, after chemo, you're really susceptible to getting sick. And I think I just caught some book like I felt fine over the weekend. But then by Monday, I was like, you know, I'm not feeling as great as I normally d'oh. And it was like I think I have a fever and, like we took my temperature and I was like, Yeah, it's kind of elevated, never got really bad, but it was high and then, like my nose was running and I just like it was definitely just a cold. But because my body was so weak at that point. It felt like I was just in front with the end of the world. And I just remember I was laying in bed or on the couch if I could make it to the living room for almost two weeks because I was not sick. And like, even when I went into the hospital just for like, a trek up, like, a couple of days after for my fluids, they, like, put me in another room and, like, isolated me because they want me to get anyone else sick because, you know, you can't get other patients sick either, because then it's just it's battle around. So, you know, it was kind of funny, like I like jokes about. I was like, Yeah, isolation ward over here. But yeah, it was it was pretty mad. And so I'm just I'm glad that that room was over, and then it made me a little nervous. So for, like, I think the last three rounds Yeah, but that was it was hard because that's kind of the turning point in the mid point of my treatment. So I was like, you know, it was very optimistic. Up until that point and then that kind of hit And that kind of made me, like, spiral downhill a little we think normally be like, Yes, I'm halfway done. I got this I'm gonna power through I kind of went the opposite way, and I definitely had a really hard time. And that's just like that point of a hit. And I was like, You know what? I have no energy to work out anymore. I don't want to get sick. I, like was just really, like, afraid of, like, getting sick again or feeling that bad. Um, but then I got I got lucky and rounds fourth or six. The rest of us were fine. And I, like, made it through. I like I traveled basically the whole time I was in chemo, like still was able to do a lot of the stuff that you wouldn't think you could. D'oh!
spk_0:
37:41
Right. Wow. Besides those that we just mentioned. So chemo, the I V f and then the first surgery. Did you have any other treatments?
spk_1:
37:54
So dirt right now I have not. But in some in a couple weeks, like on October 11th I'm gonna have my exchange surgery. So, like I was talking about earlier with the violator of a sack me and have expanders. So now I can finally get my like final reconstruction like implants and they will be soft. So right now, my my life groups are really hard, like they feel like a little like cannonballs. So I'm excited to have, like, you know, nice, like normal feeling breasts again, like I kind of forgot what that feels like. So that will be in a couple weeks and then surgery as faras like breast reconstruction should be completely done, which I'm very happy because that's just ready tow. You know, I think I found my normal with the expanders, But now I'm ready to find what feels good and normal with, like, the final implants. So that's next for surgery. And then eventually I'll get my poor now once I'm done. But every three weeks now I'm still going in for targeted therapy. So the other things I will not feel us back from so it won't be like chemo where I'm like in bed all weekend and tired and like, just not feeling good. This I should be fine and be able to, like, function like normal. I might be a little bit tired, and I might still have some residual like stomach problems. But overall, my doctor said like I should be okay, so it's good, But then it's also like, you know, it's bittersweet. Everyone keeps asking like you're done with chemo. Are you happier? You excited? I'm like, not really. I thought I'd be a lot happier. I'm very happy. I'm not gonna feel terrible. And I couldn't get back to like, being strong and working out and feeling good, But I'm still going to the hospital every three weeks until May. So it is very like I'm there, almost there. But I'm not there like I'm still kind of in the middle of it, right? And so it's a very hard thing, toe like deal with. And like, emotionally like I'm at this point where it just feels like I keep almost making it to the finish line. But I'm not there.
spk_0:
39:49
Yes. Oh, my gosh, Uh, for a targeted therapy. What does that look like?
spk_1:
39:55
So it looks really similar to chemo. Still like when you visited me during one of my treatments. So little like baggies of fluids. They hang So actually, two of those when you were there were my target therapy. So they're much smaller, like when I'm in there. My infusions during chemo took, like, three. And after four hours, depending on the day Target therapy, like two baggies of it. And they're 30 minutes each. So we'll be in and out of the hospital like within an hour, two hours, like after everything said and done. So you know, it's something I could do early in the morning. And then I can like you gonna work or go to wherever I'm going that day, still have, like, a full day and feel fine and be pretty much normal.
spk_0:
40:34
So do they still say the cancer potentially is microscopic inside of you, and that's why they're doing this targeted therapy? Is that what it's for? I'm not
spk_1:
40:44
sure about that. Actually not ask. That's that's a good question. I should ask. Um, it's more just so. The type of breast cancer had the like her two positive. It responds really well to this type of treatment. So what this does? Is it like targets like those specifically receptors? If there are any and make sure it just like doesn't re occur. Doesn't grow or anything. Okay,
spk_0:
41:06
Yeah. I asked Anna before this podcast if we could officially say that she's a breast cancer survivor and I was surprised that you have to wait until five years. When is it? When chemo was finally done, one like will be May, Yeah. So targeted therapies dust. So I don't
spk_1:
41:26
know, I might count it from chemo. They might counter from May. I think it just depends. And truthfully, like a lot of people, even some days, I call myself a survivor because I think from the day you start fighting this, you really survive. But like from a medical standpoint, I think they do five years because it's there really is no cure for a breast cancer. And I think that's a lot of things like that. Something people just don't realize is you're just not showing evidence of disease. And so they call it like any d. So no evidence of disease, and it's after five years. If you don't show that, then you're technically a survivor in the sense of like your chance for re occurrence is very low, like you could probably live your whole life without it ever like re occurring. But within those five years, I guess it's more risky. And so that's why I like they don't technically call you a survivor until you're five years clear with, like, good scans, good things like that. So I
spk_0:
42:19
got it. And then how often will you be checked after May?
spk_1:
42:24
So after May, it will be for the first. I want to say, first year or two, you go every three months, whether that's your surgeon, whether that's your oncologist like you. Sometimes like flip flop like every three months ago. See a surgeon three months with your oncologist so it's every three months just to make sure you're okay. But then after that, it goes to six months so that every six months I have to, like, go in and make sure like everything's good. There's no loves like things like that. So you're kind of just constantly like making sure you're okay and, like tracking and like, there's a single like skins. I we were like, you're kind of afraid of getting a scan because, like, you know, the first couple of friends you did like, Yeah, it was bad news. I don't want to hear that again like that. Something you'd never want to hear again. And so it's a little like, scary, like going into that, just knowing like, yeah, I could re occur like it any minute.
spk_0:
43:15
Absolutely. We talked a lot about just the medical procedures that you went through, but I am more so curious about the emotional changes that I'm sure occurred I can't even imagine. And that's why I, like truly you are one of the most, if not the most inspirational, like people that I've ever met. And no, and so grateful to know you, Anna. But like, I still remember seeing your instagram posts and when you cut your hair and how powerful that was. And then we talked about it afterwards of your like I made the decision to do that instead of wailing for my hair to fall out. I would love for you to share that story
spk_1:
43:57
with everyone. Yeah, so thank you for all those nice. Yeah, it's been a crazy emotional journey like it really has been looking up and down emotional roller coaster and everything. And, you know, it's breast cancer is just crazy. Hard in the sense of like it's taking your identity and especially like the identity that we are used to his women like We're used to having hair, especially like long hair. And I've always had super long hair were used to having, like, eyelashes and eyebrows and, like, minor, pretty much gone at this point. Like, you know, I'm also used to be, like, very fit and very like athletic. I put on probably 10 plus pounds, like So it's really hard to your body go through all those changes and then the hair piece. I think it's just the biggest, and it's so stupid because, you know, I try. I've always been very much like a woman in power. It doesn't really matter like what you look like. It just matters like you are a person. But then when you go and get to that point where you're like losing your hair, yeah, it's hard and you're like, But I, um And I just remember I I had long hair when all this started, and I knew it was gonna come out and I knew was inevitable. So the week before, Yeah, the week before I started chemo, I went to one of my really good friends who spend my hair cells for years. And she was like, You don't like We'll cut your hair and I sat down and she goes literally just asked me How are you feeling? And I just started bawling. I was like, I'm not okay, Like, I can't believe this is happening. Like, I think it just, like all hit me at once and like, Great. If this wasn't even when I was gonna shave my head, I was literally going in for just a cute haircut. And I was just so much more emotional about shopping by her short because I have not had short hair like we cut it to my chin. And I have not had short hair since I was in, like, second grade. So it was just the like, hardest thing. And I think it was also because at that point it was like, I'm not doing this to have a cool new hairstyle. I was doing this because I knew it would be easier to manage once it started falling out. So we did that, and I ended up like I know it wasn't really happy about the hair and I was just like, I think it it was exciting was like, Hey, I got to see what I looked like a short hair, and I will now get to see what I look like with any type of hair style I love. But at the time, it was very, very hard. And so I did it and I was like, You know, I was OK after it. And then about a week to 10 days after her, it's like 10. 12 is actually after chemo. Your hair starts falling out. It's just like when follow feels like open up or something and your hair just starts going. And I remember, like, the first day it happened, it was like, you know, a couple pieces here and there, and I was like, Okay, well, you don't always lose all of her hair like you don't go completely bald like I actually never fully shaved my head either. So you can still see like a little baby bird fuzz like that's what I call it, But yeah, So I was kind of avoiding shave me next. So sick. Well, maybe it won't awful out. Maybe. Don't just feeling really thin then by life days like three and four of my carefully. Now I was like, Yeah, one. I didn't know I had that much hair that could fall out And two, he was just so thin like that. It just looked terrible. So I just remember like I finally picked up my wig because I had picked on a wig like a week. We're like the week of my first chemo I picked on my way because I was like, just in case like I need to have a mistress for my only peace of mind. And I ended up like going in, picked it up. And then I went to my friend's salon and she was, like, still helpful. The sense. If she had sent me this video earlier, she's like, we should do this. And it was like a video montage of this like model, basically, like cutting her hair and like a really cool way. So you get to see all the angles and all that. I was like, Okay, let's let's do it. Might as well like we're never gonna see my hair like this again. Whether it sharing or not, I have it for myself. it ended up being just so much fun like we had a blast like taking the photos. Taking the video is like making this like video montage of me shaving my head. And so it ended up just being a mom or like I didn't cry during it. I was actually, like, I had a fun time. It was really empowering. And I'm just like, you know, as women like you never typically going to shave your head like it's a trend kind of right now in generally, it's not like something everyone's gonna dio like. Everyone thinks you're having like a Britney moment when you give your head like that's what we like it 78. It was So you know. So finally, when I didn't, I was like, Wow, actually, this was like, really empowering. I felt very like, just like strong and very like. Okay, cool. Like I could do this. And I ended up, you know, later that day well, I think like driving home. I didn't like crying. So you know, my God, I can't believe I did it. But older, like I felt fine and then human went out like later that night for like drinks with friends and didn't wear my wig, Didn't wear a scarf or anything, and I felt fine. So yeah, it was just, you know, I spent way too much money on my wig, but I ended up like a born it four times toe like weddings we've had over the summer and, like, a couple work things. But honestly, I think I'm fine. Just like,
spk_0:
48:48
yeah, I remember that. You said that you feel more comfortable confident. Yeah, without the wig.
spk_1:
48:55
Yeah, with the wig. I almost feel like I'm just, like, almost like an imposter. Gets a feeling. But yeah, I feel way more comfortable without it.
spk_0:
49:03
Yeah, Have you gone? And you like interesting looks on the street
spk_1:
49:08
I have the looks on the street are like very like some days I find them really funny If I'm not in the mood for and I'm like, Oh, my God, here they go again. But then, you know, sometimes, like, I kind of just stare back at people. Just a kind of like what did they dio? They just look at you weird. Like I think people always wonder because since I shaved my head, I've been like I've probably worn a lot more makeup just cause I'm likable. I looked like a naked more I'm not wearing about your makeup. So I've been wearing more makeup. So I think people are having a hard time being like if she's sick, is she not? Is she a model that's going on? So I think that's why people stare. But I've also having people like Raid only come up to me and like, but some weird like encounters with people What's been the craziest income? I think the craziest one was here at Disney World and we were just there, like for the weekend. It was like something fun I wanted to do while I was going through treatment, and this lady, like, came up to me and like, I am just like a baseball cap on all day. And I took it off because, like, I didn't like wearing on the rides like hot outside. I want to cool down, and she was all you needed to have her hat, and I was like, Okay,
spk_0:
50:17
well, I don't know you. And then after
spk_1:
50:20
that, all of a sudden she goes, Congratulations, by the way, and I was like, Oh, uh, congratulations for what? Like I mean, I knew what she was talking about, but I kind of like was like, annoyed at that. Like she said, Congratulations. Who says congratulations? Like out of nowhere? It's like I just lived in And I was like, um for what? But thanks. And then she was like, Oh, you know, when I was like I don't know, but okay, and then I was just Well, I kind of like to stop talking. It was so uncomfortable and it was like, Oh, my God, So awkward. But yeah, people just like I think sometimes they, like, don't know what to say. But like sometimes they just want to say anything versus like saying some are for commonly congratulations like And then there's people be like, So, like this guy come up to me. Learning is like so should you know Connor or Life Life event? And I didn't know who she O'Connor Waas and I was like, Is this an athlete? Is he asking me about like, sports? And like I don't know anything about sports? I was like, on I looked at my friend, she goes, Oh, no life event because, like she knew who she was. I guess she's like she shaved her head, like, back in the eighties or something. It was like a model. He was. I meant it in a really nice way, Mom, when I was like, Yeah, okay. You know, I knew it was like coming from a nice player, but uninjured. Just leave me alone.
spk_0:
51:37
Yeah. Wow. How else has your body changed throughout the past few months that you've been surprised by?
spk_1:
51:47
It's been so I think when I first started going through cancer treatment, all this I thought and I think it was just like Hollywood portrayal of, like, cancer. You get really frail, skinny, and I think some cancers you d'oh. But with breast cancer, you actually gained weight or you can get away. And I think I kind of went more that way. It's been a weird roller coaster with me away. Like while I was in chemo. It was like one week I'd lose £7 really quickly because I couldn't eat anything and then all of sudden, three days later and gave it all back. And then I've been, like, kind of back and forth because, like I've been, like, puffy for treatment and like things like that. So I don't know what my like wait really is like it changed so much from now. But the way things that hard because it's like even if I was to probably start working out on time because of all, Like, you know, the injections that come into menopause or just treatment in general, it makes you kind of like retain Wait s. So it's kind of like a weird things I've always been like, naturally, like thinner or like, You know, when I was younger, I was super thin. So it's hard to kind of see my body like that now and knowing like I can't just, like, do a quick workout like instantly like cabs. But it's been weird like that. And then it's also hard with the whole like, you know, I feel like in a weird way, with my hair being gone. I'm resting on my I love just being gone like and we're in my femininity has kind of like changed. It's not like it's gone because I'm still like I still feel like I can still express myself through what I wear or like, how do we make up or things like that? But it's just it's it's different. And it's not like I feel like I could just, like, walk around. Maybe just like completely. Just no me cobbling, no hat, nothing like I'll. Probably if I'm nowhere makeup. I'm gonna throw in life, my baseball cap or something like that, just to kind of like hide, I guess. And I don't know why. I feel like I have Thio, but sometimes it's just like that. We're feeling where I'm just like I don't feel like I look like myself.
spk_0:
53:33
Yeah, it's accessing your style right?
spk_1:
53:36
And I feel like it's taken away. How I would normally have just, like, built on what I like just naturally have his person. But I don't even have that right now. So it's like a weird looking between, like, it's I've noticed, like, kind of after. Like I lost my hair and stuff like as confident as I feel like walking down the street without my hair without anything. I have a hard time looking in the mirror, and it's very much like you just don't recognize yourself or you don't. I think you look that way at all. Something you catch a glimpse in the mirror like cool. That's what I look like today like and not even in a bad way. But just in like, Oh, I forgot, right? Forgot. I know I'm here right now. I forgot, like all this stuff is happening. And sometimes it's just It's that weird reminder that your body's going through a lot. And I think you know, you wanted. I'm all about distracting myself in positive ways, like doing stuff to keep myself busy. But then you forget like the reality of everything you're going through. So
spk_0:
54:27
absolutely before breast cancer. Did you have any body image challenges?
spk_1:
54:34
I did. They were never super severe, like I never had, like, you know, eating disorder, anything like that. I just had a hard time. Like basically, with that, like puberty face in the sense of I was always crazy, skinny as like a kid and even like you a teen, because I did dance in Bella in my whole life. So I was always, like, crazy thing. And then all of a sudden, like you kind of hit like I think it was like 17 18 all sudden I was like, Wait, I can't eat anything like I want to because also showing up and then being in the dance world at that age, too. It's really hard because you have pressure from your coach. Is your pressure from the director like you have pressure from everyone to look a certain way? And so that has always been hard for me because I'm also tall, so like as like a former dancer, It's like, Yeah, I always had the super thin because you can't guys like lifting you up if you've a little bit of extra weight on you But that's just that's the group path. And even since I left the dance world, it's been hard to find. Oh, okay, I'm just like a normal person now, like I don't have to be £115.5 foot eight like, you know, that's the extreme of like, where it waas and then now I'm like, Well, I'm not gonna say where, but, you know, I'm just obviously more than that, and it's It's very hard to see your body like change. But then what you feel is like, you still feel the same as you did when you were like young and super thin. So it's just it's hard to see that. And, like also figuring how you know I'm helper when I was, like, super healthy before all this happened, it's like, Yeah, I'm eating healthy eating right. I feel good. I'm strong versus being like real thin and like, maybe unhealthy. So it's been looking constantly struggling. See that in, like body image and then, you know, out on everything else that has happened and it's it's a challenge. But I feel like I'm okay and I'm getting okay with it in like with everything that's happened. It's like I'm just grateful that I'm here and that I've caught everything early and that I'm okay.
spk_0:
56:29
Absolutely. Did you have any mantra, or even currently, still have any mantra, sze or affirmations that you would say to yourself to kind of keep you in that positive spirit?
spk_1:
56:42
I don't Well, I wouldn't necessarily say it's a mantra. Um, I definitely feel like in general like strength has been a big thing for me because even going back to like our last question, I've always like now been like, Yeah, I want to be strong. I want to be, like, empowered and things like that. And I saw this quote. Can you remember who said this first? But I saw it and it just resonated with me and it's been with me this whole time. It was where it is. You don't know how strong you are until strong is the only option you have. And I feel like that's always like just bend. It's resonated with me and I wish I could quote whoever said that first and give them credit because it's amazing. But it's been something that I've just lived by and it's like, Yeah, I didn't know my body could go through all this and I could still be okay and I couldn't amazingly still bounce back from so much stuff like I'm still able. Like I was telling you earlier, I was finally able to, like, jump back into a yoga class and my body just once I warmed up. It was like, Oh, OK, yeah, we can still do down dog and have my wheels touch the ground like we can still do all these things like I'm super sore today, but like my body can still do it. It just takes a little bit longer, or it's gonna take a little bit more work,
spk_0:
57:52
so Oh, my gosh, That quote was so good. Say it one more time.
spk_1:
57:56
You don't know how strong you are until strong is the only option you have.
spk_0:
58:01
I love that. Yeah, during this entire journey, what moments took sticks out to you where you're like, I feel so strong,
spk_1:
58:11
you know, probably. Actually, just recently, probably during not first yoga class back. Um, I was going to say it was right after my surgery, but then I was like, I felt really strong then, but I was still actually physically strong still. But after chemo, like, my body's been very weak. Like I knew when I was traveling a couple weeks ago try to lift my suitcase above my head to put it in the overhead bin. And I was like, Wow, I have no strength anymore. So I just I felt really weak. I just felt sick, like I felt just down. And then I was in yoga the other day and I finally was able to like, you know, get through flow, feel flick, flexible again, like feel all that. And I just remember we were doing mountain pose this and then we went into, like, you know, the back bend like up, and I just sure you're looking in the mirror and being like, I may be bald, maybe week in all of this, but I just I feel so strong and I'm just so happy to be back in yoga class and doing something that I love to D'oh. So I would have to say yes. That's probably like the strongest. I have fell in that sense off a couple weeks post chemo and I already feel a scuttling. I can't wait to see what happens in another 23 weeks.
spk_0:
59:20
Yes, I mean, I'd be back on the podcast. I'm reading a rake e book right now, and they talk about how every illness, every ailment, every struggle in your life is placed there for a reason. And I was really looking at that quote and thinking about it, and I don't know exactly my thoughts on it, but the same time it does make sense. You know, we have these challenges and there's lessons to learn. If you had to think on this journey, what would you say, if any were lessons that you learned you mentioned? Of course, you know that relationship with your body and realizing how strong your body is, What would some other potentially lessons be that you've learned?
spk_1:
20:00:11
I've learned that I'm really bad at slowing down or like being okay with just not being okay. That's what I think, the hardest thing for me. And I'm still working on it like actively because, as you can kind of tell, it's like I will have these moments were like, Yeah, okay, give myself the weekend Thio, recover from chemo or recover from whatever. But then also, when I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go. I'm going 100 miles per hour, and I'm just like after, like whatever I'm doing. But it's still so hard for me to realize, like with everything I've been through, like breast cancer. Unfortunately like it's not a race as a finish line like, it's something that is for life, and that is something that's been so hard for me to just, like be okay with just being okay with whatever my new normalised in whatever it's going to end up being. So it's been definitely challenging in that sense. But I think it's also helped me realize, like, just slow down and take it. One likes done in time, Yeah,
spk_0:
20:01:11
one day at a time. What's been the best part of
spk_1:
20:01:18
your journey? The best part has been building the community. Honestly, I, uh, ever since I was diagnosed, I was like you looking for people like that? Were my Andrew like something like that? So I you know, the power of social media is amazing, like I found so many people through that and just have built this network through that. And then also, I just a couple of the patients at Rush that are with me. They're young, like I have a friend who's 23. I have a friend who's 25 27 28 like there's a lot of young patients and that are just out there. I'm sure there's someone north. There are some in Northwestern that I've also in other hospitals, too, but it was actually really nice, like my kimono. Hers ended up setting like me and this other girl up on this, like little like meat, cute of like you guys should be friends because you're both young and have breast cancer. And like, of course, we don't want to be young enough breast cancer. But like we met and we, like, instantly became friends and, like we've been each other's, like support system, like basically through this whole time. So it's been really nice and, like just building that community and getting to know people like, even though it's a really unfortunate circumstance, like, I think you get to know people on a deeper level on That's been really nice. That's a really good point. Yeah, you definitely like there is no, like, small talk. Let me
spk_0:
20:02:34
hear a small
spk_1:
20:02:35
talk, but I feel like you kind of just jump right to the point. Your legs
spk_0:
20:02:38
are here. Symptoms, lists are they? How are you feeling? How you doing? Yeah, and
spk_1:
20:02:42
it gets like, I mean, I even had just, like, text conversations where it's like, How are you doing? And then a novel comes back and it's like, yeah, same axe anyway. And it's it's really like it gets really, really quick.
spk_0:
20:02:54
Wow, how is your outlook on life change after experiencing cancer?
spk_1:
20:03:00
I'm a more prone todo after when I'm passionate about, and I've realized that I think it was like the mind set off. We only have so much time and we don't know how much time we have. So why would we waste time doing anything that's not like that's not good for us or not like men for us and that we're not passionate or happy about, so definitely, like taking that to heart. And recently, that's a big thing that I've been like thinking about it. It's like, OK, you, I've gone through all of this. What? How am I going to make my new normal life be a life that I'm like, proud of in, like, happy about living and just, like, excited about? You know, I don't want to go to work from 9 to 5 and be miserable every day, like, you know, that's just not That's not something I care to do anymore, like it's not even about, like making a good like pay truck anymore. It's just am I going to be happy and what I'm doing and is it something I'm actually passion about? So that's been a big thing that I've been like thinking about lately and just trying to decide. Okay, What are my next steps in life? And how am I going to live my life to the
spk_0:
20:04:02
fullest? Well, your career path change.
spk_1:
20:04:06
I think so. Um, I don't want to give away too much, but I think it will. Still figuring out exactly where I want to go with it. But I definitely think it's it's currently changing.
spk_0:
20:04:21
We'll talk off. Yes, I can't. It's already been an hour. Yes, this is insane. I really want to touch on how we can be aware of our breast health. Because to be honest, I have never even checked my boobs. So I don't even know like how what I should be feeling like What's normal? What's not normal? Tell us everything. Yeah,
spk_1:
20:04:44
so biggest piece of advice that I would say is, Well, check yourself first and foremost like I know it could become a scary especially after here, like a story like mine. Like I found it myself like all that. Like I know you don't want to find it yourself, but it's always better than you. D'oh! Because so, actually, when we met with the bright pink, uh, team, I'm not with their CEO. A couple days later. And what breaking does is it helps with, like, preventive, like breast cancer. And they are really good about raising awareness around like knowing you're normal. And I think that's just so important. Because if you don't feel your boobs like just regularly and know what you're normal feeling is, you're not gonna know all sending a lump, and then worst case, you let it go. When you're like a little track it later, I'll try later. That's when it can actually turn into, like, metastatic breast cancer or something like that. And of course I could happen any time. But, like, if you don't take care of it, it could just get worse. And I feel like I'm so lucky that I caught my breast cancer early, and I would hope that if anyone else like is ever in the situation that they captured us early as possible, what stage or you and to a. So it was and it didn't spread to my lymph nodes or anything, so I'm very lucky. But yeah, two edges, because the size of the tumor,
spk_0:
20:05:58
what I was going to say, what did it feel like? And how big was it?
spk_1:
20:06:01
Um, it was 2.5 millimeters or senators, No millimeters. I don't remember. No, I should know this, but it felt almost like a little like like a saree for like, a pebble or not you could, like, take it and I like picket it. A big thing for me, which I didn't know was I was having nipple discharge on. I thought it was, like normal because I thought it was just like, Oh, maybe I'm at the age where my body wants to have babies and it's like producing like milk, Ari. Yeah, that's not normal. So if anyone's having that, like, definitely go to doctor, like, get attract out like I had no idea. So yeah, so that was a big thing. So look out for that. Like, there's just other sides were like, You could see, like a template. Carlson, Just like any general change is always just really important to look out for you. So I would say that and then just, you know, being honest and talking with your doctor about it, like going in for those track ups annually just because, you know, at least then they'll be on the same page is you don't know what you're normal is as well. And then you just have that relationship with your doctor so that you kind of, like, are aware of everything that's going on in your body. Does breast cancer spread fast? It can, Yes, I heard it can. I don't know how fast, but I heard it can spread like really fast. Like even. I mean, I guess in the sense of mine, it was like I didn't even realize I had a tumor until it was as big a zit Waas. So, yeah, I think it can grow and spread pretty fast.
spk_0:
20:07:33
Are there any other misconceptions on breast cancer or breast health that we should mention?
spk_1:
20:07:39
Well, we definitely touched on the survivor thing earlier, I would say, especially with, like, October coming up like it's breast cancer awareness fun. But there's like, this big thing about, like pink washing, where it's like a lot of companies were just like, Oh, yeah, we're donating to breast cancer by this product. And three reality is is they're not always donating as much as we think, or they're not actually going into like research that matters. So like It's just, like, really important to be aware of that and know that it's like, just, like, be aware for yourself and like it's important that we raise awareness around it. But it's not this, like, super fun thing that all of a sudden, like all this, like PR life market means like, made it to be on top of that. It's just, I guess, with that there's a lot of misconceptions like, Oh, your breast cancer. You also get like a free boob job, like, as you have heard for my like, super long story like, It's not just that, like, there's so much that your body has to go through And it's, you know, I would be lucky if I was able to just, like, get a normal, like boob job at this point. But, you know, of course, there's just so much more like, Yeah, I'm actually very happy with how I look now a little bit bigger than I Waas, so that's great. But, you know, I would just say like, be mindful about that
spk_0:
20:08:53
woman. Why are your favorite organizations on breast cancer to support? I have the one you mentioned? We'll link up. Yeah, I
spk_1:
20:09:02
have a couple I for some of them are not breast cancer specific. So I'm a big fan of Gilda's Club and of moments, Angels, those air, both for, like every type of cancer I met Johnny and my guys, best person ever on then. I love Gilda's Club because they really do, like, just provide just so much support. Like I go there every week or every week every month for young women with breast cancer. Meet up and everything they do is grace. They always have a ton of fundraisers that you could get involved with. Austin is running the marathon for them, so we've raised a ton of money for that. So if you could donate to that, I'm doing a breast cancer walk in mid October. Now I'm getting them all my stuff, like who? Which one of us very involved A lot of Ruskin's or things I want to say That's through the American cancer, and then I've also Susan G. Komen is great. There's a part of a group called the Trustees, like there's just so ray organizations out there. I don't know if I could just need one to support, but I would say to your research in whichever one resonates with you the most. I think it would just be great, but we'll link up every everyone that I love to join you. I've just let so many great people through all these
spk_0:
20:10:17
amazing Can we talk about your passion project?
spk_1:
20:10:22
We can a little bit. It's still like a very early work in progress. Now tell us so I'm in some stage or like writing a book because I just feel like it's so important to, like, talk about it in just my experience and not even just my experience. Like my whole vision for this book is everyone's experience. If that makes sense, like it's different people, stories that are both going to help inspire those, like who have just been diagnosed with breast cancer to, you know, maybe fine, like just the best way that works for them. So whether it's like knowing like, hey, this support group will be great for me or hey, like, bring your friends with you to chemo every week and schedule it out so that you know you have that support system there or, you know, just little things like that that help you realize that there is something better and bigger than the unfortunate diagnosis of cancer. So I'm hoping that through this book, a cz Vega's that waas, I hope that we can kind of just help others. Whether it's one way or another just was like advice from all the people because I found from talking to so many different people I pick and chose, like what I loved from their stories and their experiences, and that helped me get through my own treatment.
spk_0:
20:11:35
Absolutely. Stay tuned for the title to that look excited. Last question on your journey. What resource is have been most helpful for you? Besides, of course, an incredible support system. Did you have any books that have really helped you, or just any advice that you could give to someone who might be going through a similar journey?
spk_1:
20:11:58
Yeah, so I guess similar to kind of like what I just talked about. It really has been meeting with other people going through it because I've had an amazing support system of family of friends of like just people that I've done in my life for years and like they're all spread out that comes from the word that I visited, but the reality is is like they will never fully know what I'm going through. So it's sometimes really hard to talk to them about, like everything. I'm going through everything I feeling because it's no. Everyone there stands and it's not that you can't empathize with people. It's just you haven't gone through it. So having people that I've gone through are currently going through, it has been, I think, the best resource as faras books. I don't know if I really like. There's not any that I've been in love with or that I Fred if anyone has any suggestions for me, please my away Yeah, I would say it's it's more people and being like in person or like actually meeting up with them because even another piece of that was like, I kind of mentioned early. So should meet social media, help me meet a lot of people. But once I met them in person, that's when that relationship, like, really formed and like having that face to face with someone like really helped.
spk_0:
20:13:08
How did you meet them via social media? Was it through Facebook groups
spk_1:
20:13:13
through instrument mostly actually, Was it a hashtag? Hashtag like I searched the hashtag breast cancer a lot when I was first diagnosed. And then you kind of just start seeing people and then you, like, follow them. And then they kind of a lot of people have reached out to me when I was diagnosed, insured it so that was, like, super helpful. There was this group online called the Rusty's, and they're both a group of, like survivors, survivors, like people that I've had, like family members, sort of breast cancer. So it's just basically all like women that I've ever had to deal with sometimes breast cancer in their life, whether it was their mom, sister, you know, someone or themselves. So that was really nice, because it kind of just brought everyone together. And everyone's just been super supportive. So that was a big help. And then, yeah, I just kind of searching people and seeing like what other people were doing and,
spk_0:
20:14:06
yeah, Were there any natural treatments that you've used? Um, no. No.
spk_1:
20:14:12
I kind of I haven't really done much, except for what my doctor has suggested. Just because I don't know, I'm not a doctor. I mean, I think post treatment I will definitely be I'm in general life, more natural things and off I'm all about, like, alternative medicine. Um, but during treatment, like a star is taking, like natural supplements, things like that. My doctor said sometimes you just don't know, Like where things are coming from our side effects, whether that's from treatment or from something new that you're trying. So just trying to meet new in the middle of treatment just is never a good idea. It's a really good point. Yeah. So now maybe that I'm almost done. Or like once I'm done with everything I might try just something to help, you know, hair, skin and nails. Like once those grow back. But as far as the great German not really. I guess the most natural thing I've tried has been acupuncture. That's been really hopeful. That's helped. Was like a ton of my symptoms. So big fan of that? Yeah, you need to do Ricky. Yes, I've heard Ready. So I took like a breaky guided yoga class, so that was really cool. I've done that before, which was amazing, but yes, I've heard really good things. Not Ricky.
spk_0:
20:15:24
So this is crazy. I just interviewed someone who was a reiki master yesterday, and her podcast is actually going out after yours. But I mentioned you in the podcast because she was telling me her greatest success story, and it was with someone who's going through chemo. And she talked about how you lose feeling in your fingers and toes and threw a key. She didn't lose that, apparently or alleviated symptoms. I definitely
spk_1:
20:15:55
have that. And that's well, that's why I tried acupuncture, because that's helped a lot with that. But I didn't know that he could help with that too, So,
spk_0:
20:16:02
Yeah, I gotta go. Yeah. Oh, thank you so much for sharing your story. And, uh,
spk_1:
20:16:07
thank you. I'm glad I was able to share it. And, you know, I could always answer anyone's questions if they want to know more.
spk_0:
20:16:13
Absolutely. Let's end with some fun rapid fire questions. Okay. First question. One word to describe you. Resilient When you were 18 What did you imagine your life toe look like? At age 25 I
spk_1:
20:16:30
imagined my life to be I'd be graduated from college and in my dream job, I'm nowhere. You know I've done the college thing, which is great, but I am nowhere near finding my dream job yet.
spk_0:
20:16:42
What was your dream job At 18? I
spk_1:
20:16:44
think it was actually still dance related, but I think now that things have shifted, I'm still trying to figure out what that looks like.
spk_0:
20:16:52
Favor Workout Studio in Chicago Corp. Our Younger David restaurant in Chicago. R P m Stake three staples in your Kitchen,
spk_1:
20:17:02
Um, broccoli, brown rice and dark chocolate. I don't think
spk_0:
20:17:07
I ever heard and and say broccoli
spk_1:
20:17:11
able to eventually what do you eat it? I know I don't like it raw, but Steve immediately with, like brown rice are all just like throw. It was like a meat or like, you know, in salad or something. So it's just always like That's the one thing I just like always pick up the storm like Well, you know, at some point
spk_0:
20:17:33
book every charge girl should read the defining decade and Lena who I've never heard of the defining
spk_1:
20:17:39
decades Really good. It's all about how, and that's why I think it's good for charge. Girls. It's it's all about how, like your twenties air, actually, that decade that define who you become as a person. And it's not just, you know, we're doing all these things later in life. But that doesn't mean that our twenties are not still the most important part of our life. And it's just it's amazing. Raid. Easy to read mixes like psychology with, like, real stories and, like, just it's awesome. Definitely right, Definitely. Well, because I'm still in my twenties. Yeah. Favorite podcast. Super soul conversations. My
spk_0:
20:18:13
oh, so good. She's a woman female. You'd like to me, Sheryl Sandberg. Top three interests other than wellness. I love wine, dogs and traveling. What is the most out their wellness trend you've tried?
spk_1:
20:18:33
Um, this is a while ago, but I tried the, like lemon cayenne like water.
spk_0:
20:18:38
Oh, my God. Like, right
spk_1:
20:18:40
when I was really popular, I was in this room. How many days have you doing for I think I did it for, like, five days. I think was supposed to do like a weaker. So I think even day three, I was just, like, cranky, and I like to like it. Okay. What are you most curious about right now? I've been really into the like astrology like Simon, even like Palm bring think it's just because I want to be able to, like, see more like my future like No, especially with everything going on. So I've been like, you know, those like you can read your palm yourself. Things haven't liked doing those. And we went to a couple of the astrology classes. Yeah, I'm super into that lately.
spk_0:
20:19:22
We need to get our birth chart. Red? Yes, in the birth. I have a person now, so let's do it together. Yes, What is your morning routine?
spk_1:
20:19:31
So my more your tennis changed. Right now, it's Honestly, it's kind of like sleeping in and just going with the morning. But it's turned into this, like, little snuggle fest between me and my dog. I gotta puppy. Back in May, when I started chemo and Austin wakes up like five AM every day. So that puts her in bed with me at, like, six or 7 a.m. And she is the sweetest thing. She'll come up like she loves, like like my head. Oh, but then she liked calms down. Then she like crossing a little ball next to me and likes basically like sleep together for another couple hours and then we, like, wake up and just kind of, like, hang out. And then I take her for a walk and that's our morning like snuggle routine.
spk_0:
20:20:14
Uh, do you have an evening routine at
spk_1:
20:20:16
all? It's not really a routine, but lately it's been awesome. Will get home from work. Well, kind of like catch up on the day. We'll cook some food and then we'll watch, like our favorite show of the moment. What you show right now? Well, so I'm very excited. This is us. Just Kate.
spk_0:
20:20:31
Okay, I need to watch that. Everyone is watching that. So it's and it's
spk_1:
20:20:36
so like emotional, too. You're like there's so many episodes or just started, like crying. It's Yeah, it's really good. Is Austin into it? He is. He's really a very good show. D'oh! What is your greatest lesson on college? Definitely try as many things as you can. College is the time Like I mean, I tried to tell us stuff, but I wish I tried more because it's at one time you could just do it and not fail. Then, like you don't try it. And if you don't like it. Stop like it's college. That's what it's for. It's for you to really see thes different things about life and what you want to do after it. So try everything.
spk_0:
20:21:13
Greatest lesson on wellness. Listen to your body. Um, greatest lesson on friendship.
spk_1:
20:21:22
Your true friends will seriously always be there for you. Like I have friends all over the place right now, and I just know the ones that will always be there for me.
spk_0:
20:21:30
Greatest lesson on spirituality
spk_1:
20:21:34
This is a hard one. Um, don't you know? I think it's just like, really just listening to your, like intuition. Thio. I do think that there's whatever you believe. Like I think there's some table, a higher power. But ultimately I think it like it's through you and it's like how you kind of just like reacting like handle things
spk_0:
20:21:55
isn't so Did you have any moments in the beginning when you were angry and asking like, Why is this happening to me in an angry way? And I talked about being really shocked.
spk_1:
20:22:06
Yeah, yes, and then there was, like a couple a couple times where I was like, maybe this is my own fault that this happened. Um, but I've just kind of learned, like sometimes it's it's hard to get out of the negative thoughts when you start thinking that. Yeah. So, you know, they come and go definitely with, like, anger and like, be negative like all that. But I don't know. I tried to just like I think about it and just be like, you know, it just happens. Something's life just happens. And it's now how am I gonna react to this versus this happened Me And like, why me? Like all this. Like, you feel sorry for yourself what you want, But the other day, you kind of just have toe move forward with it and handle it the best you can.
spk_0:
20:22:46
I know. Yeah. Oh, my gosh. I just don't get how you been so positive
spk_1:
20:22:51
I'm literally just like you're 20 days. Not like so many days. I literally just lay on
spk_0:
20:23:02
what has been your proudest moment from 2018.
spk_1:
20:23:04
So far, So definitely graduating, especially with everything that happened. Like I don't like there was a point where I did not think that was gonna happen on that was a really big goal. Andi even managed to graduate summa cum laude. So very happy playing
spk_0:
20:23:20
grand, sickening. What are you most excited about this fall? I
spk_1:
20:23:25
think just like new beginnings like follows. Like a weird time where I feel like even though like nature's kind of dying like that's what Paul typically is. I just also feel like everything always just feels new and refreshed in the fall. And I don't know if it's still just, you know, that back to school mentality or what it is. But I just feel like I'm on the verge of, like, just something new and great happening. Like, I feel like I've hit rock bottom now with everything so there's only like you can only go up from here.
spk_0:
20:23:51
Absolutely. I feel like fall is letting go of you all of that junk, all of the challenges and you really you are starting fresh. You really are so beautiful. What is your personal mission statement? I
spk_1:
20:24:08
was actually just keep going. Leave no matter what. Like sometimes you you really just have to just keep going. Just keep going. Where could we learn more about you, Anna? You can follow me on Instagram on, def. I'm posting. I've kind of fallen off a little bit with everything that's been going on. But usually I'm pretty good about sharing and posting on Instagram for sure.
spk_0:
20:24:33
Awesome. And that I really do want to link up the article that you didn't get married. That waas. Incredible. So you guys can read more about Anna, And if you guys have any questions on breast cancer, please D m charge, please. Diem Anna Wool Linker Instagram in the show notes. Because, I mean, like, I was saying with you before, I I have never even checked myself right, like I had so many questions. And I'm sure so many other girls do, too. And so I would love to be able to have them asking questions.
spk_1:
20:25:07
I would love to answer any questions anyone has and just be able to help someone. Whether it's hopefully you know, no one else really goes through this. I would never wish that upon anyone. But, you know, if you're a few questions on it, if you're going through it, if you know something is going through it love to talk to them, look shot to you and just try and help anyone. I can
spk_0:
20:25:24
Thank you. Thank you guys for listening. I will see you next week. Bye. Charge, girls. Good morning. Yes, I'm talking to you. Time to get charged up. Cousin stays Knew This guy says hi Hands bluer than blue with the sun shining and all the birds are chirping to two day is the best day to be alive The miracles appeared once you open up your eyes Surprise time to keep living the dream So get up and join the rest of your charge Tain
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