I’m Stacey Moore and I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 29, while I was three months pregnant with my second child. Since I was in my second trimester, I immediately started chemotherapy because the medicine would not cross the placenta. At first, I was scared for my baby and my family. Bringing a life into the world should be a joyful time, but instead I felt fear and anger. However, I found I had a huge amount of support surrounding me. My family and friends, and even strangers, would offer help and encouragement. My husband would accompany me to my treatments, which we called our “mini dates.” He was my biggest supporter and stood by my side the entire time. My daughter, two at the time, would come eat lunch with us during treatments and visit the other patients. She would snuggle up to me and just watch tv or play next to me when I was not feeling well. I felt so blessed to have them in my life during this difficult time, it made me want to fight that much harder for them and for myself.
After my last treatment, I was induced early and had a beautiful healthy baby girl. I was full of joy when I first saw her and relieved she was okay. I felt very protective of her and sad I could not breastfeed her, but happy to have her in my life. Three days after her birth, I had a lumpectomy. I was not able to pick her up, but my husband would bring her to me and I could hold her. Then three months later, I had a double mastectomy with breast reconstruction. I had some complications with the surgery that I had to go back to correct several times. I was devastated! I felt like Frankenstein’s girlfriend - ugly and full of marks. My self-esteem was gone and replaced with depression. The only thing that kept me going was my family. I knew this was unhealthy and unfair to them and myself. Then I was given a great opportunity to participate in a show called You Night, which was a fashion show for cancer survivors. I also participated in a SurviveDAT support group. It was a great experience that let me share my fears and concerns without judgment. I started to believe in myself again. I felt like I belonged and was not alone anymore in this journey.
Then after seven months of chemotherapy, we found out that we were expecting again. At first we were shocked, but again grew quickly to fear. I was scared the cancer would come back or the baby would have developmental issues due to the chemo. I felt like I would never get a break. But again, I told myself I could do this, because “look what I have accomplished already!” My surgeries were put on hold until after the baby was born. Then two weeks after the You Night show, I gave birth to a handsome and healthy baby boy. Looking at him when he was born, I did not feel the fear or anger anymore, but true happiness. There will always be a possibility for the cancer to return or another life changing event. So instead of trying to control the impossible, I learned to enjoy life.
One night, I was getting out of the shower when my eldest daughter walked in while I was drying off. As all us parents know, we never get any privacy. If you shut the door or lock it, they are still on the other side yelling for you or sticking their fingers under the door. Next thing you know little eye balls are looking at you from under the door, asking what you are doing. So as my daughter walked in, she stopped, pointed and asked “Will I have those when I get older?” I was thinking to myself “Oh, I am not ready for this conversation with her.” I cautiously asked her “What do you mean?” She pointed to me again and asked the same question and this time I knew what she was pointing at. My scars!
My heart broke because my innocent five-year-old thought she will grow up and have these marks. I looked at her and said “No baby, you won’t get these when you get older. These are mommy’s scars and one day you will have your own.” But I don’t want her to grow up with a fear of scars. So I told her “Don’t look at the ugliness in the scars, but the beauty in them. Our scars represent the good and bad in our lives. Every scar has a story that makes us who we are. They represent our journey of strength, courage, and beauty in ourselves. Instead of looking at the negative, look at the positive that helped shape us to be better. When in doubt remember your scars are beautiful, just as you are beautiful.” At that moment, it clicked for me that I am beautiful and I should not be ashamed of my scars. I now feel confident and strong in myself. I will no longer let my scars live my life for me but embrace them. I am proud of my scars!
- Stacey Moore, Cancer Survivor