Tell us how you were diagnosed with breast cancer… It was through my annual exam in April. I always receive a mammogram with sonogram as that is my OBGYN’s standard of care (although that is not universal, as Katie Couric recently pointed out!) The radiologist saw an abnormality and had me come back for an emergency biopsy, and called me the next day to tell me that I had cancer.
What came next? Emotions, treatment, process, the support you had…To be honest, it didn’t all hit me at once – it seems very surreal to be 42 and perfectly healthy and be hit out of nowhere with a cancer diagnosis. There’s a lot you have to do after the initial diagnosis – an MRI to see if It has spread, genetic testing, and then the surgery and pathology to confirm your full treatment plan, which for me included surgery, chemo, radiation, antibody treatment, and endocrine therapy. Only my husband and I knew until after my surgery so we could take it step by step, process our own emotions, and keep our daughter’s life as normal as possible in the beginning. Then I told family and a few close friends, all of whom have been so loving. Finally at the end of chemo, I felt more comfortable sharing my journey more widely.
Any silver linings you can share? I am very private, but chemo forces you to be more open – not just because you lose your hair, but also because there are many things you just can’t do due to COVID risk and loss of stamina. I have found that so many people rushed to show support; you do get to see all the love in your life come out in full force.
What does life feel like now?
Cancer is a bit of a part-time job. I am still spending a lot of time at medical appointments as I am still in active treatment (radiation and antibody) as my form of cancer is aggressive (Her2+), but the worst – the chemo – is over, thankfully! A lot of my life does feel the same – I continued working (from home), which for me was great for mental health. I don’t think I will ever feel “cancer free”, so to speak. It’s always with you. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
What advice – if any – do you have for others? Definitely make sure you get that sonogram if you have high breast density! Also, make time for yourself to be active every day. Even if it’s a few sit-ups and push-ups and rows with hand weights. It is SO important, and something is better than nothing. It will help you get through any kind of medical event so much more easily. I truly believe that I was able to get through chemo on schedule because I had made a habit of this.
Anything else you’d want to share? Do you view the world differently now? Yes – having cancer was what finally helped me set boundaries and not sweat the small stuff!
More about Audrey
How old are your kids and how long have you lived in Westport/the area? My daughter Elizabeth is 8. I grew up in Darien and we have spent summers and other vacation time in Westport since 2017, including working on the Mother’s Day Westport Moms diaper drive events in 2018-2019!
What is the best show you have recently (binge) watched? AND/OR what is the last book you read? A Month in the Country by JL Carr. It’s a beautiful story about a WWI vet who falls in love with a vicar’s wife, while restoring a church in the English countryside.
What is your favorite podcast? “You’re Dead to Me” by the BBC – each podcast takes on a different obscure historical figure with commentary by both a historian and comedian
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “unfortunately” – I will never forget when my (non-eater) daughter turned to me at age 3 after two bites of lunch and said “Unfortunately, I’m done!”
Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Who are your heroes in real life?
Fiction: Atticus Finch
Real life: my oncology team
QUICK THIS OR THAT:
At a movie: Candy or Popcorn? Candy
Cook or order in? Cook
Cake or Ice Cream? Cake
Iced Coffee or Hot Coffee? Hot!
Beach or Mountains? Beach
Puzzle or Board Game? Puzzle
Wine or a Cocktail (if cocktail, which one?) white wine
Reading or writing? Reading
Before bed: Social media or book/TV? Book
Watch or play sports? Neither really, but I like to stay active
Stay in or go out? In