About Me

Hi, I'm Laura.  This blog chronicles my journey of thriving and living beyond triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). 

Here's the short version of my bio: 

Me, post-treatment and living "Beyond"
in February 2014.
On October 8, 2012, one month after finding a painful lump in my right breast, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer at the age of 39. I had managed to acquire a super-special sidecar of cancer characterized by an unusual looking mix of invasive ductal and lobular carcinoma cells -- so unique, my case was brought before the Tumor Board in my hometown. (Who even knew there was such a thing?!)

I had a right lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy, and was declared lymph-involvement-free. I began 8 rounds (16 weeks) of dose-dense A/C-T chemotherapy in November, 2012. After chemo, I had about 7 weeks of daily radiation treatments. I combined these treatments with complementary holistic therapies including whole and raw foods, Reiki, and shamanic healing to help me fight my daily battle. I finished treatment in June of 2013.

By sharing my own journey through and beyond triple negative breast cancer, I hope to help shift the way other people experience their lives and their journey with TNBC for the better, forever.

I blog here at Beyond Triple Negative to shine a light for all those diagnosed with life-threatening and life-altering disease.

Through my private practice, Courageous Be, I coach and consult for entrepreneurs and leaders who believe their business is a force for social good.

Here's the longer version:

This is what I looked like
in October 2012
one week pre- head
My pal Buddy the Elf has a great opening line I like to borrow, check him out. (Got yours? Mine's purple. So be forewarned, I do tend to overdose on it.)

Past that, I'll tell you straight up: I was shocked as H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks when I found out October 8, 2012 that that my own body had somehow turned traitor and managed to acquire what I refer to as a "sidecar of triple neg." At 39 years young, and certain I'm getting younger every year, it seemed impossible, surreal, and crazy-making to hear the words, "The tumors tested positive for cancer."

I cried and gulped like a fish and my whole body shook for a few minutes, while I blew snot into far too many tissues... and then the fighter in me took out a 2x4 and gave me a few swift blows to the head and reminded me who I am, and how I do my life. My mental toughness, tenacity and tendency to tell it like it is are a few of my greatest strengths and my greatest weaknesses. I felt it was time to embrace those characteristics of myself whole-heartedly.

I committed to taking this journey in the spirit of conscious living, learning everything life has to teach me through this, appreciating and being grateful for every moment, and having fun and laughing even during the hardest times. That means this blog is all about my healing journey, and helping me heal through this experience, but I promise, I won't just go on and on about medical stuff related to cancer - or as I often prefer to call it, "can't-sir". It'll also talk about what I do beyond can't-sir as much as I am able, while on this particular phase of my journey. You know, important stuff like food and gratitude and friends and even the occasional folly.

I love to sport bright,
wonderful wigs and headwraps.
Oh, and I love butterflies,
see them flying above
my head in my studio shot!
As I came to understand more about my specific situation, I began to see hope that there are also many small ways I can make a positive difference for others who are facing similar challenges. Triple Negative is yet another one of the big baddies of the cancer world, but far too little is yet known about it today to help us always make the best personal healing choices possible. It was only identified as a subtype of breast cancer in the early 2000s, and from what I've learned, researchers are still trying to get a really good handle on this thing. (Check out this overview of the past 5 years of  Komen investment in TNBC research to see a bit about what I'm talking about.)

Like all cancers, TNBC is unique, and because the tumors lack hormone-receptor cells, current targeted treatment options, while effective, are much more limitedA diagnosis of TNBC is by no means a death sentence. It is basically a guarantee you'll have a big ol' long, wide road ahead of you. For me, so far, from a western medicine standpoint, that's meant heaps o' tests, biopsies, a lumpectomy, dense-dose chemo, and in a few months, radiation. From a holistic standpoint, it means journalling, blogging, Reiki, shamanic healing, meditation, raw and organic whole food, new exercise regimes, and soon, acupuncture.

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Pretty much all TNBC patients are guaranteed some version of the western protocol above, and most certainly chemo, unless they opt out of western treatment altogether. As far as holistic, it's a bit of a grab bag based on personal preference and insurance/ability to pay for services. Together, working at all levels, and not just relying on the current ways and means to tell us who, what, why and how, I believe we can combine and leverage our own experiences and body wisdom along with the current and emergent clinical research to eliminate this dis-ease forever.

Along with my own healing, supporting others in their journey with triple negative -- healers, caregivers and patients -- feels like another good place to focus some good juju. I'll do my best through this blog to also make my own unique contribution to the collective wellspring of wisdom based on what I learn and experience in the spirit of helping others. You all can let me know how I'm doing at it! Better yet, I'd welcome your contributions! Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

In my experience, it is possible, and even vital, to carry myself in the spirit of courage, faith, humor, love and compassion, while embracing the full-on warrior woman I am. I believe it's 100% possible to be grateful for every moment of a ride like this, while fighting like a fierce, 8-armed gladiator, complete with metaphorical trident and sword. The motto for my healing posse is "kick cancer's ass", and I'm not changing it for the sake of niceness or polite metaphysical hoping. I'm a warrior, albeit a love-warrior, and I'm doing this thing on my terms.

Hubs & Me, with our new says-it-all
Suzy Toronto calendar from Patsy.
I also love gnomes and mushrooms,
especially for holiday decor.

I'm not about pollyanna simplicity or "just think positive" for the sake of thinking positive, even though I sometimes wish I was. But I do believe in living my life with a serious tenacity for fun and seeing the bright spots. I've found for me, life is complex, messy and completely ridiculous 90% of the time. (And the other 10% I'm usually just laughing about how complex, messy and completely ridiculous it all is.) That's what gives it the juice.

By sharing my own journey through and beyond triple negative breast cancer, I invite you to join my posse of awesome-hat-wearing, trident-bearing, ass-kicking love-warriors. If you find just one thing on this blog useful, inspiring or laugh-inducing in any way, please do let me know with a comment. I'd love to hear your experience, and anything you think would make this blog of greatest value to you.

Post-head shaving 11/16,
bald & beautiful,
goofy smile and all, ME.
Please know: my goal is to maintain radical authenticity through this journey. That means some of what I write probably won't be for the faint of heart. If I offend you, please know that I honor and respect your feelings, and I also honor your choice if you feel you need to find a new posse with whom to play. I hope you found a few useful morsels, and I encourage you to find more elsewhere that suit you, for there are some amazing resources out there! The number one thing is to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Find your posse. Find your tribe. Make it work for you!

My love and gratitude to you for reading 
and sharing this journey with me,