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Write every day: The Year Ahead

My breast surgeon said it best: “You’re going to walk through hell and we’re going to go together.” Cancer is the hero’s journey like none other.

Yesterday, I was formally staged as having Stage 2A breast cancer. This might sound scary though is still considered early stage and my specific type is abundantly treatable with surgery and meds because it’s fed by estrogen. I’m so lucky I went for my screening when I did. It saved my life.

Today I’m going to have my first tissue expander expansion post-surgery. I have to honest—I’m a little scared because my pain hasn’t subsided, especially since my extra lymph node surgery last week set me back a few weeks. My friend, Edith Gonzalez, offered to go with me and I gladly accepted. This is one of the few types of appointments when someone can go with me.

Chemo starts on December 15th, and I’ll get the standard aggressive 8 treatments over the course of 16 weeks. The first 4 will be tougher than the second 4 because they are different medications. Between now and then, I have a multitude of appointments, procedures,and learning sessions to get me ready for chemo. Chemo will take me to late March.

Then I’ll get a month of healing and in late April I’ll have 5 weeks of radiation therapy every weekday. That will take me to late May. Then we start hormone therapy for 10 years, and my reconstruction which will wrap up by about this time next year.

Now, I love timelines, process flows, and plans but damn. Intense treatment for a year, even in waves and phases with all their own side effects that will physically and molecularly change my body and mind, is an absolute rollercoaster, especially in the middle of COVID. It’s exhausting. There’s no other word for it.

I have survived multiple bouts of trauma in my life, and now I know they prepared me for this. This is the work, and there’s no way or no one to minimize it. I must be healed. The world must be healed. But healing isn’t easy. Healing hurts. It’s difficult and it must be done and I will do it.

When someone calls themselves a survivor of a life-threatening illness, we’re a bit too cavalier. We toss around that title as if it’s nothing because so many people fall into that group now thanks to modern medicine. Let me tell you, it is a big something to be a survivor of a life-threatening illness that you didn’t cause by your own actions. I am one, will continue to be one, and am determined to help others climb this mountain, too.

About Christa Avampato

The short of it: Writer. Health, education, and art advocate. Theater and film producer. Visual artist. Product geek. Proud alumnae of the University of Pennsylvania (BA) and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia (MBA). Inspired by ancient wisdom & modern tech. Proliferator of goodness. Opener of doors. Friend to animals. Fan of creative work in all its wondrous forms. I use my business skills to create passion projects that build a better world. I’ve been called the happiest New Yorker, and I try hard to live up to that title every day. The long of it: My career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, entertainment, technology, and financial services. I’ve been a product developer and product manager, theater manager, strategic consultant, marketer, voice over artist, , teacher, and fundraiser. I use my business and storytelling to support and sustain passion projects that build a better world. In every experience, I’ve used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, programs, and events. While building a business career, I also built a strong portfolio as a journalist, novelist, freelance writer, interviewer, presenter, and public speaker. My writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, PBS.org, Boston.com, Royal Media Partners publications, and The Motley Fool on a wide range of topics including business, technology, science, health, education, culture, and lifestyle. I have also been an invited speaker at SXSW, Teach for America, Avon headquarters, Games for Change, NYU, Columbia University, Hunter College, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The first book in my young adult book series, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, was acquired by a publisher and launched in November 2017. I’m currently working on the second book in the series. A recovering multi-tasker, I’m equally at home in front of my Mac, on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I also cut up small bits of paper and put them back together as a collage artist. My company: I’m bringing together all of my business and creative career paths as the Founder of Double or Nothing Media: • I craft products, programs, and projects that make a difference; • I build the business plans that make what I craft financially sustainable; • I tell the stories that matter about the people, places, and products that inspire me. Follow my adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christanyc and Instagram at https://instagram.com/christarosenyc.

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