My Life, & Being Wrong — A Wildfire Story
November 7, 2022
In the very early hours of July 7, in the year 2016, I woke up to a serious stomach cramp. I honestly thought I had to go to the bathroom and that would fix my problems so I could go back to sleep. How very wrong I was.
Earlier that year, and the year previous, I had been going through treatment for stage IIIa breast cancer. I was diagnosed at the ripe age of 25, did some quick “getting my sh*t together,” and started treatment shortly after turning 26. Up until that morning on July 7, I had been through six months of intense chemo, a modified radical mastectomy on the left side, and I was just mapped for radiation. I had my first round of said radiation the previous day, and I was feeling pretty crummy for the entire day.
I definitely found out why later that morning.
My stomach ache did not go away. In fact, I returned to my bedroom doubled over in pain. I woke up my partner (at the time), and told him that something was very wrong, and I needed to do something about it. He offered calling an ambulance, but at the time, we lived in the absolute middle of nowhere. The time it would take an ambulance to get to our house would be precious minutes indeed. I told him I needed to drive myself out to the closest hospital, and after some time, he decided on following me there in his truck.
While I was checking in, I offered up that I had PCOS, and it was very probable that a cyst had ruptured on my ovaries. Given the severity of the pain, and where it all was happening, this was highly likely. I got settled into a bed and room, and they started working on getting me pain meds. My partner left for work, and I was in the hospital room waiting for everything to get going. I had done all the normal things for check in, like get into the gown, get the vitals, and pee in a cup. I was still in excruciating pain when the doctor came in to ask a few questions.
“Are you sexually active?”
“Uhh, yes I am, why?”
“Have you been tested for pregnancy before?”
“No, but, I’m on the shot and going through cancer treatment right now.”
She left the room, and very quickly came back with a beeping machine and two nurses. “You’re going to need to call your boyfriend back, you are in active labor.”
The world fell out from beneath my feet.
It did not make sense. Nothing made sense. Not only was I on a form of birth control, the monthly shot, I was on hormone suppressant medication, I did the “red devil” chemo and I had surgery. How did this happen? How did this get past everyone that was watching me so closely for the past 10 months?
Things happened very quickly from this point on, because I was already dilating, and having closer together contractions. They had to transfer me to a hospital with labor and delivery, and they had to transfer me fast.
I got into the back of an ambulance, and I was rushed to a different hospital. I tried calling my partner, but not only did he not believe me for a single second that this was happening (he hung up on me), he also insisted he needed to stay at work.
So, there I was, being wheeled in on a stretcher, and being told I was about to have a baby. I remember thinking to myself, wow I really need to call my oncologist and cancel my appointments for the day. There were so many people asking me questions, and I didn’t know any of the answers. How far along was I, am I diabetic, what is my blood type? I had no idea about any of these things because I never had to question them before.
At the end of that morning, after a million more questions and an emergency C-section, there was a baby girl sleeping soundly in the nursery of the hospital with the last name MILLETT on her wristband.
Four years and some months after that, I was sitting in a doctor’s office with my daughter, awaiting the results of an MRI I had just had. I did not think that anything was amiss, and I had chalked it up to a repetitive stress injury from working as a hairstylist.
How very wrong I was, once again.
I was always afraid of becoming metastatic. I had a feeling it would come back one day, I just was hoping I would have a little more time before it did. I was hoping to retire from my career on my own terms, and grow old in the house I had just bought. Instead, I was let go from my job, my salon home for the past four years, and had to stage and sell the house I loved.
Almost two years ago, I was given a choice. I could either let it consume me, turn the other way, and not seek out medical care. My other option was staring my mortality in the eyes, and moving forward. The day I had my meeting with my oncologist to discuss where to go from there, she told me something that has always stuck with me.
“You are a strong, robust person. I believe you can get through this.”
I stand here now, stable, after enduring one serious year of absolute hell. I had my ovaries removed and continue to be on hormone therapy. I am on oral chemo, and a quarterly infusion. I am monitored so closely, that nothing flies under the radar anymore. I track my blood work, my pain levels, and my energy levels.
I also stand here now, married to the most amazing and incredible woman, raising a super cool miracle kid, and going on every adventure possible for as long as I am able. We know the storm is coming again, and we are ready for it. I can no longer live in fear like I used to because it is all-consuming. Instead of just surviving scan day to scan day, I live my life the loudest way I can.
I will fight like hell to be here for the milestones, and to show my kid that her mom is a warrior through and through.
Stephanie Millet • Retired hairstylist, current writer. Diagnosed at 25. Stage 3a, ER+, PR+, and then Stage IV at 31. Stephanie is an advocate for AdvancedBreastCancer.net, as well as an ex- hairstylist.
They have never publicly told their entire story, so thought now was the time to do so. They married their wife at sunrise in Colorado last year, and they continue to have incredible adventures together. Stephanie is currently working on advocating in the community, and becoming a micro-influencer on Instagram, so that they can hopefully reach more people. Stephanie hopes to one day write a book!
Stephanie lives a relatively quiet life with their family in the PNW, and enjoys the outdoors, as well as board and video games. Traveling is Stephanie’s favorite thing to do, and recently the Millett family completed a ten week long road trip of the western half of the United States.
As a permanent resident of cancerland, Stephanie likes to come to the table prepared and lead with as much knowledge as they can. Together with their oncologist, they find a treatment plan that works for living a semi-normal life, as well as kicking as much cancer ass as possible! • @_the_radiatedlizard
This piece has been republished with permission from WILDFIRE Magazine, the “MBC: Legacy Stories” issue, published originally October 8, 2022. More information available at wildfirecommunity.org
WILDFIRE Magazine is the only magazine for young women survivors and fighters of breast cancer under 45 years old. Headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, WILDFIRE is a beautiful, story-based bi-monthly magazine published on different themes relevant to young women survivors, from stage 0 to stage IV. Beautiful and ad-free! Visit wildfirecommunity.org for more info.