This week’s guest post is from Heidi Floyd.  Dr. Attai had the chance to meet with Heidi last week.  Heidi is a breast cancer survivor and shares her incredible journey in this powerful piece, Time.

Deanna and Heidi

TIME

He was with me for exactly 4 and ½ seconds.  My memory is that of a few short, quick breaths – rapid representation of the life he was beginning.  The overwhelming smell was of hospital grade bleach in the swaddling blanket, and the itchy feeling of tears running down my face.  4 and ½ seconds of relief, joy, exhaustion and utter resignation to the fact that I would not get any more moments; this was it.  4 and ½ seconds.  Would I get just a bit more time?

I had fought for months and months to make sure he was ok, strong (as strong as possible), healthy (as healthy as possible) and thriving (as much as possible).  It was all about him, still is, really.  When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was told to terminate my pregnancy to focus on the cancer.  It would be easier for me, I was told.  Easier is one of those words I’ve encountered, but has never really managed to squeak its way into my own life.  So I found an oncologist who knew how to treat both of us, and had years of experience treating pregnant breast cancer patients.  Hours away from where I lived, in another state, but I found this miracle doctor – and mourned for the women who didn’t know he existed.

The oncologist never told me it would be easy; quite the opposite, in fact.  Many great advances in chemotherapy couldn’t be utilized by pregnant patients, but many could.  My treatments would be long in duration and scope, would run the full course of my pregnancy as soon as I was out of my first trimester.  On Fridays, I would head to the infusion center to tackle the bad thing growing inside me and on Mondays I would head to the ob/gyn for ultrasounds to check up on the good thing growing inside me.  A delicate balancing act of saving two lives while eradicating a mutation of evil…like in a comic book.  But, alas, I was without both a cape and wonder woman boots.  Drat.

We went through it all, baby and me.  Hair loss (are you bald in there, too?) unending nausea (is this morning sickness or chemo all-day sickness?) exhaustion (promise me you will be really good when you come out ok? Mommy is so tired…). People stare at you when you are going through chemo, I’ve seen it happen when my mom was being treated.  When you add a pregnancy, they don’t stare at all.  They look away, blinking in abject terror.  Is that..wait…is she…ohmygosh look away look away.

My onc has a great sense of humor and was many times the only person I could just sit back and laugh uproariously with during this time.  We knew I was fighting for survival without any promises, but we also knew that if I was going to have a limited amount of months left I was darned sure going to spend as much of it as possible laughing.

As delivery time/end of chemo time approached, I knew that both baby and I would have compromised immune systems.  What I failed to realize is that meant he would not be with me like normal mommies after his birth.  He would go immediately to the Neo Natal Intensive Care
Unit, and I would go to the ‘no one wants to go into the room with the creepy bald mommy’ area of the ward.  I was told that as he was being delivered via c-section.  They said ‘we have to take him now, you have much more surgery ahead’ and take him they did.  I had 4 ½ seconds with him.

I had more parts removed than an old buick in a junk yard during that surgery.  Bits and pieces that contributed to my estrogen positive status, bits and pieces that I didn’t really think I would miss (for the record, I DO!). But I didn’t have my son.  He was down in the NIC U.  The sweet, sweet nurses took photos of him and taped him on my wall so I could see how he changed from day to day.  What tubes and sensors were removed as he got stronger.  He is strong now, and healthy and smart, feisty, silly, handsome, crazy, wonderful little video game lover. I knew I needed more time with him.

More surgeries followed, radiation, daily Femara regimen.  Outreach with fellow patients, survivors.  Speaking engagements, book offers, even job offers.   Hit hard with new tumors and more surgery. I face them all with a simple goal: every time they wheel me away from my family I say the same thing.  I’m not done yet.  I have work to do. I want people to know they CAN do this, they CAN face this, cancer is evil and stupid but I don’t care.  I want more than 4 and ½ seconds.  I want my whole life.

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Editor’s Note:  Thank you Heidi for sharing your story with the #BCSM Community.  To read more of Heidi’s work, please visit her website and follow her on twitter!

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12 Responses to Guest Post: Heidi on Time

  1. Terry Arnold says:

    My heart was in my throat. I have met so many women diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for wanting more, and praying you get it.
    Hope always,

  2. Yvonne says:

    Heidi, what an absolutely lovely post! You have a really talented way with words, and you sum up what we all feel when we have this “bad thing growing” inside us, but you had the double whammy, the beautiful baby boy who just took up residence inside you at exactly the wrong time. Every photo of you shows you bursting with life with a hugely warm grin. You really are an inspiration. Lots of love to both of you, in fact, to all of you. Yvonne xxxx

  3. DrAttai says:

    Heidi what a beautiful post. I am so thrilled that we had the chance to meet in Chicago! You are an inspiration and we are so fortunate to have you as part of this community.

  4. Greg Smith MD says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this. My mother had breast cancer and is doing well, and I have known several women who have endured and come through strong and laughing, just as it sounds like you have. Marvelous. Godspeed.

  5. AnneMarie Ciccarella says:

    Heidi…
    You have been rocking my world since I watched you tweeting about HOCKEY games. There aren’t many of us (women hockey fans ….. ) — that made you just a bit more special.

    This THIS has blown me away. And yes…. tears spilling. My world is an infinitely better place because you are in it.

    MUCH love to you…

    AnneMarie

  6. Renn says:

    Heidi your story is very powerful. By sharing it, you will help many, many women with your words.

    {{{hugs}}} to you and your family. You are inspiring!

  7. Judy Engel says:

    After all this time I still can’t hear or read your story without being overwhelmed. First by the emotion that wells up in my “mommy heart” at what you went through for your beautiful boy and second for the graciousness shown by God to you and you to others. You are a blessing!

  8. Roxanne Martinez says:

    Heidi, you had me at hello! Since the first time you reached out to me via Twitter to share your story and help guide me through my journey, you have been an inspiration and a beam of hope. When I feel like no one else understands my journey of breast cancer during pregnancy, I take great comfort in knowing that you very well do. This post brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it — and even more as I read it again. Thank you for continuing to inspire me as a survivor, advocate and a mom. Sending you much love & hugs!

  9. Beth Gainer says:

    Heidi,

    This is so powerful and moving that I have tears in my eyes. What a beautifully written, beautifully poignant post. I can’t imagine how very hard this must have been for you. You are amazing!

  10. Nancy's Point says:

    Heidi,

    This is an amazingly poignant and beautiful post. I can feel your emotions coming through via your words. I really am quite awestruck by your powerful and very personal story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  11. Susan Zager says:

    Heidi what an amazing post and your story is so powerful and special. It’s so beautiful the way your son still got brought in to this world. I am really touched. Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. Sarah Addison says:

    Heidi- I love this post! This is ME exactly. My son was born 11/25/13, via vaginal delivery at 34 weeks. I did AC and had a double mastectomy while pregnant, and he spend 2 weeks in the NICU after delivery. Thank you for your very candid post. I agree with you on the omigosh look away. I’ve been there and felt it. Sometimes it was hard to explain because the people I was with wouldn’t notice it happening, but I did.

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