“I can’t have breast cancer; I have a Bar Mitzvah in 6 months!” This was the first thing that came out of my month after being diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in August 2013. How can this be…there is not enough time!
What to do? Well, thanks to my amazing family, we shot out of the gates day one. I was off to doctor appointments followed by second opinions and more doctor appointments. We had a solid plan in place: a lumpectomy followed by radiation…and I should be done. Of course, things never go as planned.
The second bombshell came on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. I was BRCA1 positive. This meant that my cancer was caused by a genetic mutation (think Angelina Jolie). I had known that there were a few red flags about my diagnosis: I was under the age of 50, and I was of Jewish Ashkenazi decent, which I learned has the highest rate of the gene mutation. However, with NO family history, this couldn’t be right! Unfortunately, the diagnosis was accurate, and it was time to change from plan A and get moving on plan B, as the clock wasn’t going to stop for me.
So what does one do when faced with a life threatening illness on top of the planning of your firstborn’s Bar Mitzvah?
Well, there were two choices. First, I could wallow in self-pity, curl up in a ball, and wish it would all go away. We all know that wasn’t going to happen, although there were times when that would have been my first choice. Onto the second choice. You make a decision to kick cancer’s ass, to plow through and not to let anything or anyone stand in your way. There were things that needed to be done, and with the help of my most amazing village—and amazing party planner—it was time to hold my head high and get this party started!
Four surgeries and four rounds of chemo later, I was deemed “cancer free!” With a gorgeous “party” wig on my head, the Bar Mitzvah went off without a hitch and with so much to celebrate, it was truly a night to remember.
It’s amazing what the body can accomplish with a positive frame of mind. Incredible things can happen if you just believe. Positivity is crucial even in the most difficult of situations. I was on a mission, and I wasn’t going to let cancer get in my way. I had a goal and with the help of others, moved forward to achieve this goal all while holding my head high. There are choices in life, and I chose to be strong and look to the future.