HOW I FOUND OUT I HAVE CANCER

  1. It was my 29 birthday
    I was lying in bed with @steve in our hotel in telluride where he had taken me as a surprise present. We had been dating since March 1 and had moved in together at the beginning of the month.
  2. He said something snarky
    As we do, because we are both spicy meatballs. I reached across my body to give him a playful shove and felt something strange under the skin of my breast.
  3. I knew it was terrible...
    I had just had my yearly OBGYN appointment at the end of May and there was nothing there when the doctor did a breast exam. That's a BAD sign. I tried to do that stupid thing girls do where they are like "Oh, it's probably nothing I don't want to make a big deal out of it..." My love wouldn't let me. He probably saved my life.
  4. That night we flew home to SF and in the morning I called the surgeon who had done a biopsy on me almost 10 years ago
    Then it was a fiber adenoma (a benign, hormonal lump) but when I described it to her (wasn't there a few months ago, lumpy like cauliflower, not painful, shaped like a squished piece of fruit) she demanded I come in that afternoon and I took off work early.
  5. She felt it and then pulled out her ultrasound
    She told me, straight up "Dena this does not look or feel good" she's a straight shooter, that's why I love her. she called radiology and asked them to stay open late for me. I went in and had a punch needle biopsy. I was alone, I didn't expect this to happen so quickly. I called my baby and he came and picked me up.
  6. I waited the longest week of my life for confirmation of what I already knew
    I put it out of my mind and let my friends plan a birthday dinner for me at my favorite Izakaya restaurant. The bruise from the needle punches turned gigantic and black - a fist sized ink blot on my skin. Steve bought me a new dress to wear, a white, single-sleeve, goddess-inspired number from Nastygal that was gorgeous, but that I've never been able to wear it again.
  7. On Monday I got the call
    It was cancer.
  8. I broke down crying in a puddle in the phone room in the incubator space my startup was working in
    Steve, who worked around the corner, thank goodness, came and collected me and took me home on the ferry. He fed me chocolate and held me and gave me half a Xanax and helped me tell my mom. He went with me to the doctor. I don't remember who called @gabimoskowitz but somehow in the blur of more biopsies and freezing my eggs and shaving my head, she managed to start an online campaign that raised 20k dollars to help me with medical costs so I could leave my job
  9. She also made me special cookie dough
    It wasn't that kind of special but I think the Young & Hungry pot cooking episode was inspired by me.
  10. Many months later, well into my chemo, we discovered that the cancer had metastasized to my bones
    You can literally read my diary from this time, I documented it all on my blog www.denajulia.com - honestly it was both worse and better than I ever thought it would be
  11. Exactly a year ago this Sunday Steve and I got married
    We are the cutest, happiest couple in the world. we don't take anything for granted. I still get chemo every 3 weeks and I'm about to have my breast reconstruction - but it's like any disability or chronic disease. I tell people it's like I'm a diabetic. There's this thing inside of me that's not working the way it's supposed to. With the right diet, minimizing stress, lots of rest and access to the targeted chemotherapy medicine I take every 3 weeks, I can live a relatively normal life.
  12. I say relatively normal
    Because who's life is really normal? I can't get pregnant while I'm on these drugs that keep me alive, but I have 43 totsicles on ice waiting for us to start a family. I have the most gorgeously delicious husband in the world, my crew of ride or die b's to pick me up when I fall down, and the sharpened clarity of mind to know just how lucky I truly am...