I am Hollye Jacobs: speaker, nurse, social worker, child development specialist, and author. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, I speak publicly and write about my experience on my award-winning blog, The Silver Pen, and in my book, The Silver Lining: A Supportive and Insightful Guide to Breast Cancer. Three years after my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, I’m on a continual journey to find the Silver Linings in life.
In September of 2010 , I was awakened in the middle of the night with stabbing pains to my right breast. I thought, “Hmmm, that’s weird, but probably nothing.”
Three more times that week, the same thing happened. As a nurse, I assured myself that breast cancer doesn’t typically hurt and that the pain in my breast was simply from the dense tissue resulting from drinking too much caffeine. But, I decided to have it checked out…just to be sure.
My gynecologist assured me that it was “probably nothing” and referred me for a mammogram and ultrasound…also just to be sure. I knew that there was an issue when I was told that the radiologist wanted to see me before leaving.
Some Big News
When I walked into his office I saw my breasts on four large computer monitors.
I thought, “This isn’t good.”
“You have 4 tumors in your right breast and 3 in your left,” he told me. “We need to do a biopsy immediately for what I highly suspect to be breast cancer.”
I found myself feeling like a deer in headlights. Instincitively, as a nurse, I know that patients forget nearly everything that comes after the word “cancer” so I said, “Hold on, let me get my journal so that I can write down what you are saying.” When I looked down, I saw that my hands were trembling.
Here I was a healthy, happy, vegan-eating, marathon-running 39 year-old mother with absolutely no family history of breast cancer. This diagnosis literally rocked my world.
As a nurse and social worker, I now found myself in a very unique position: moving to the opposite side of the bed.
The Silver Lining Decision
From the time of my diagnosis, I realized that I had two choices about how I was going to handle my diagnosis: from a place of fear or a place of optimism. I chose – and it was indeed a very active choice for me – optimism in the form of Silver Linings. So, throughout my writing, you will see me refer to Silver Linings.
Treatment was pretty horrendous for me (understatement of the decade!). Despite my difficulties, what kept me going was the ability to look for and find Silver Linings. Now here’s the thing about Silver Linings; unfortunately, they don’t take away fatigue, hot flashes, nausea or constipation. But they do provide balance and perspective to get through the most difficult of circumstances.
The Silver Pen
I started my blog, The Silver Pen, as a way to keep people apprised of what was happening to me during treatment. I didn’t want my family to be burdened with having to repeat stories over and over again. So if my husband wanted to get away from Cancerville and go out for the evening, when people asked how I was, he could (and did!) say, “Read the blog.”
The Silver Pen then became my personal experience with cancer written through the lens of my professional experience as a nurse, social worker and child development specialist.
An unexpected Silver Lining was that in a fairly short period of time, the blog went viral. What started as a way to communicate with family and friends became a source of information and – so I’m told – inspiration that gives a descriptive voice to the breast cancer experience.
I write about a myriad of things, from cancer to healthy recipes to child development to books, partly because who in their right mind wants to write (or read) about cancer everyday? I mean, really.
Have you ever had a ‘deer in headlights’ moment like this?