Breast Cancer Grad- Emi Lou Howe
Name: Emi Lou Howe
Age at Enrollment: 33
Major: HER2+ breast cancer
What were the primary symptoms you experienced prior to diagnosis? A lump
What symptom(s) lead you to go to the doctor? The lump, they turned me away saying it was hormonal
Courses Completed: Right mastectomy, FEC / Taxotere Chemo x 7, Herceptin x 18. I am having a risk-reducing mastectomy (right) in four hours!!! It is 4.5 years post diagnosis.
What was your hardest moment (or moments) and how did you you get through it/them? Losing my taste. Who knew I needed to taste food so much! And the little lost moments when I wasn't who I was and not yet who I am and was too hard on myself.
Any helpful (tangible) tips or tricks you discovered for dealing with your symptoms and/or cancer? To work that positivity like your biceps in the gym. To love yourself... always. It's the answer to just about any problem! And it's not always easy.
How did your family and friends respond? Amazing. And clients / colleagues. I have been totally cushioned by their support.
How did/do you find joy during this experience? My kids. Their total disrepect for cancer was such a refreshing atmosphere for me. And they're funny and cute. They make me feel so good about myself because even with everything we've all been through, they're turning out great.
Did you learn anything about yourself? If so, what was it? That I was way too hard on myself and others! That I like taking my clothes off! That I like helping people, my work has completely changed. I used to offer massages to bored housewives, I now work with clients with all kinds of auto-immune disorders, cerebal palsy, bereaved parents, eating disorders...
What made you take your clothes off and make this into an expression of art? To cope, to make it mean something. To raise global awareness and widewspread hope. To show, alongside my breast cancer sisters, that modern cancer can be very different. It can be the best thing that's ever happened to a person. That we have a choice where it takes us.