My Wellness Journey – Overcoming Breast Cancer and My Dreams of having a Family

I’m excited to share this guest post from my friend and health coach, Marion Caldwell!  Marion is a mom of two girls who left her corporate job to have more time and flexibility.  Her story and positive attitude are inspiring.

One Mom's journey with breast cancer, starting a family, and her wellness journey

In 2006, my husband and I found out that we were going to have our first baby. We were beyond excited about our baby’s arrival. Sadly, at our 12-week appointment, we were told that our baby stopped being viable at eight weeks old and I had a miscarriage. I was heartbroken, scared and wondered why this happened. Did I do something wrong?

Shortly after the miscarriage, I discovered a painful lump in my left breast.  The doctors felt it was milk duct blockage from the pregnancy, but did some blood work as a precaution.  I soon received a phone call that no one ever wants to receive.  I had Left Breast Cancer-BRACA1 gene, HER2 Negative. I was numb and in shock with the news. Immediately I felt lonely and sad that I would have to wait until my husband got home to tell him this news that would then change his world too, and call my family with the news and let me workplace know. I had so many unanswered questions and new fears for my life.

Life moved swiftly from this point on.  I started chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor so it could be surgically removed. I received several rounds of chemotherapy before I discovered that the study drug I was prescribed was attacking my system in the form of an allergic reaction (it was peeling my skin, and I had to tape my fingertips down).  I was brought to Dana Farber to restart another round of different chemotherapy. 

During my breast cancer diagnosis, I wanted to save my eggs for a future pregnancy but was told by the doctors that the procedure was too risky for my health.  I would have to have faith that I would still be fertile after all my treatments and surgeries were complete. My hope to have the family I desperately wanted is what kept me fighting so hard for my recovery. 

Post-chemotherapy, radiation, a double mastectomy and multiple surgeries, I’m happy to report that I am in remission!

After having another miscarriage after my remission, my husband and I went on to have the family we desperately wanted and are blessed with two beautiful, healthy girls. 

The pregnancies were closely monitored to be sure that there was no sign of cancer recurrence.  I also had breast reconstruction through a tram-flap surgery which took some of my abdomen muscles to reconstruct my breast muscles and left me with a medical mesh in place of my abdomen muscles (talk about abdominal fatigue with crunches). Doctor’s were unsure if I would carry a baby full-term and a special team of doctors was assigned to me in case of a C-section because of the possible mesh complications. Luckily, I was fortunate to carry both babies full-term without any medical intervention.

A few years after having my second daughter, my husband and I wanted to try for one last child. However, after consulting with my medical team, they felt it unsafe to try again.  Because of my BRACA1 gene and strong family history of Ovarian cancer at a young age, they urged me to have the Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy surgery right away to remove my ovaries and give me the best fighting chance not to get Ovarian cancer. I did this in 2016. 

The Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy surgery puts you immediately into menopause. I have been placed on daily hormone replacements to help combat the risks of surgery-induced menopause until I’m 50 (I’m currently 40) but the medications and surgery cause weight gain, hormone fluctuations and more.

During this time, I had a strong urge to spend what little time I had left with my girls before they entered school. It was always the plan to be home with them, and a corporate job wasn’t satisfying me any longer. I made the plunge and left my corporate job to be home with the girls. Best decision ever! 

I started exercising to help with the menopause side effects and to improve my mindset.  I was pretty depressed over not being able to have my third child, leaving a job I was at for so long and reflecting on all I had gone through. I joined the local YMCA’s Live Strong program for cancer survivors which was excellent.  I recommend it to everyone in this situation. After the program was complete (12 weeks), I knew I wanted to keep exercising but going to the gym wasn’t for me. I wanted to be home with my daughters and not put them in the gym daycare.

I started using the Beachbody programs that I had at home collecting dust and blogging about my journey. I was approached by my current coach to see if I would be interested in coaching for Beachbody doing what I’m already doing-working out and sharing my journey, but getting paid to do it! And here we are a year later! 

Coaching for Beachbody has not only provided extra income while staying home and being available for my family, but it also keeps me mentally and physically healthy.  I’m connecting with great people, and it allows me to do what I love to do best – help others on their journey and be proof that these programs can work for them too.  Not only am I healthier, but I have more confidence and have realized my worth and my dreams.   

If you are interested in learning more about how Marion can help you on your wellness journey, you can follow her Facebook page – Evolving Mojo

Please like my Facebook page or follow me on Pinterest for more inspiration from Seashells and Storytime! 


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1 Comment

  1. Kathy Sullivan says:

    Such an inspiring story of another strong woman and mother. Thank you for sharing your journey.

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