Embracing the Warrior Within

My name is Angie Lising and I am 43 years old. I am a SoCal girl born and raised in Orange, CA. I have been married for 17 years to Marco and have 3 beautiful kids Isabella, Abbigail, and Gavin. Fitness and healthcare are my passion. I enjoy the outdoors, motorcycles, helping others, and changing lives for the better. 

While out on disability from a partial hysterectomy I discovered a lump in my left breast. I first thought that it had to be nothing since I had a normal mammogram less than a year prior to that. That being said, I made an appointment with my primary physician and she ordered a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. I went in on August 23, 2016 and during the ultrasound they saw the lump. The nurse said that she spoke to the Dr. and they wanted to do a needle biopsy while I was there for further testing. Still thinking too much about it, but a little nervous, I had the procedure done. The nurse said I would hear back by the end of the week. 

The afternoon of August 27th I got the call. The one that blessed and changed my life forever! The lady was very sweet and calm and said, “I’m sorry to tell you this Mrs. Lising but you have Stage II IDC ER/PR + Breast Cancer.” I just went blank and asked her to repeat what she just said. I then said, “ok what do I do now?” After 10 minutes on the phone I had two appointments set up within a 2 week period and I was in shock. My stomach hurt and my mind was racing a mile a minute. Then it hit me… My kids. What do I say? What do I do? One thing I knew without a doubt was I was going to win this battle! So I prepared my will and advanced healthcare directive to ease the burden just in case. Talk about surreal!

On October 6th I made the decision to have a double mastectomy. I didn’t want to risk it coming back in the right breast, knowing there were some cysts there. I did all my research and talked to my team of doctors about all my options and decided to take control and get rid of both. I was scared and thought, “will I feel like a woman and pretty?” Deep down I knew it was the best choice for me. I saw my oncologist and went over the options and I told him, “let’s kick this hard and give it all we got.” He laughed and said, “I like you. You are a strong woman and will be ok”. I cried a little, but knew I was making the right choice. 

On October 25, 2016 I had my chemotherapy orientation and was ready for whatever came my way…so I thought. That Friday October 28, 2016 I started chemo, I was ready for my 6 hour day. As I sat there, I was ok and felt great until the nurse said, “you will have to give yourself injections for 5 days starting Sunday.” Wait…more shots and needles. I took a deep breath and said ok. The nurse went over everything with my husband and me, she showed us how to administer the shots and gave us what we needed. I went home, rested, went through all my chemo paperwork, and some books. I wanted to be well educated about what was going to happen to my body. I remembered during orientation that 2 weeks after chemo is usually when hair starts to fall out, how I would feel, and what to kind of expect. About 2 days after, I felt like a truck hit me and like I had a bad case of the flu. Mind over matter is what I kept telling myself and this will pass. By day 7, post chemo, I was finally feeling good again and thought, “ok I can do this.” Over the next week my scalp started to get sore, tingle, and itch. At exactly 2 weeks post chemo, it started to happen. I would run my fingers through my hair and it would fall out. Every time I brushed it, the brush was full. I was nervous and thought what if it doesn’t grow back then what? I decided to take charge. There wasn’t much I could control, but when my hair goes, I decided.  

The night my hair was falling out, got turned upside down when Mindy, Tara, and the Stripes of a Warrior team showed up at my house to surprise me. I was  overwhelmed by the support and love that it gave me strength and courage. I never imagined such support like that for me. I decided that my hair would go the next morning. My family and I buzzed my hair. I felt free and empowered. I decided that I am in charge of my journey and my outcome. I cried, I felt an inner beauty and strength I never knew possible. My journey was just beginning.

After the second round of chemo my body began to change, I felt every bone in my body ache and they felt like they were breaking. I thought, “this must be what dying feels like.” I made peace with myself and God. I cried laying there in my bed. I had a conversation with myself, that I was stronger and braver than this cancer. “Change my thoughts to change my outcome,” I kept saying to myself. Even though I felt weak and like I was dying, I made myself get up. Right then, my outlook changed for the better. I got up, showered, and made myself feel pretty and normal again…Well my new normal. Each day was a new day and a new opportunity to change my journey and outcome. My family and friends needed me and I needed them just as much. I thought, “I still have a lot to do here with my life and kids.” Chemo treatment got a little easier and I pushed through the pain and discomfort. It was only temporary and I knew I was stronger.  

I am thankful for my family and friends through this journey. They have given me strength when I felt weak, courage when I was scared, and love when I felt alone. I met some amazing woman along the way that I still talk to today and I help empower them through their journey. Having my friends and fellow warriors tell me that I have given them light and courage to fight harder has given me such joy and warms my heart. 

I see a whole new meaning to the word WARRIOR! It means courage, strength, perseverance, beauty, grace, love, and a little bit of bad ass. A woman that sees the good in a bad situation and grabs it by the horns and fights with all she has. That is ME! I will be forever grateful for this journey, I have grown, and see life in a different light. 

As for now, I started to work in a new position at a hospital and can’t wait to see where that takes me. I am passionate about sharing my journey with others and hope to start some public speaking opportunities. I want to let others know that being diagnosed with cancer isn’t a death sentence, but it can be the beginning of a beautiful journey. It is my mission to help empower, give strength, courage, and beauty to each journey that I can touch through my experience. Thank you Stripes of a Warrior for letting me share my experience and help bring hope to others.

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