Today is April 2, known as Hope For Two Day, celebrating women who were diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy. I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer when I was 22 weeks pregnant. I had found a lump a couple weeks before that.
Despite the incredible support I found in family, friends, medical providers, and strangers, it was in many ways a very isolating experience. I have since found I am not alone. I knew there were other women diagnosed while pregnant, but I'd never even heard of another, much less met another.
In January, I finally went to a meeting of a support group that I'd known about for a while but hadn't ever been to. There, I met another woman who was pregnant and underwent treatment for her cancer. Her child is now about 4 months old. She told me about and added me to a Facebook group for women diagnosed while pregnant or breastfeeding. I have come to love the support of the group and the women in it. There are a couple hundred of us, all different cancers. Some are recently diagnosed; some are many years post treatment. Some are living with metastatic disease. That scares the shit out of me.
Knowing I'm not alone has been a confusing and powerful experience. It's comforting to know I'm not alone. It's really crappy to know I'm not alone, that other women and their babies have had to go through this as well. Right after I joined the group, someone put together a video of women sharing their stories. I waited until Kevin was with me to watch it, because I knew I would have all of the feels. I cried throughout. So many women. So much strength. So much love. So many uplifting stories. Watch the video here.
Yesterday Kevin and I went to the Breast Cancer Survivorship Conference hosted by Hopkins. We went last year as well, and it was as excellent this year as before. We had lunch at a table with two women who were diagnosed last year, also while pregnant. One was the woman who added me to the Facebook group, and the other is someone I've been Facebook friends with for a while but hadn't met yet. Her child is almost the same age as Finn. The three of us were all diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant; we were all pregnant at the same time; we all live in the Baltimore area. It's kind of...bizarre. I'm having trouble figuring out how to describe all the feelings it gives me.
Blerg. I wish I could figure out how to format pictures the way I want to on this site. It drives me batty.