How did you first find out you had cancer?
I found my lump myself. Know your breasts. It was a big tumor under my nipple.
How did you react when you heard the news?
I’m pretty cool under pressure most of the time. I was preparing to get on a plane for a trade show in New York, it was 8 a.m. and I got THE call. I heard the words and said thanks for the call. I then let my mom drive me to the airport. Right after — it seemed surreal but was more of OK, now what? I didn’t want to bum mom out on the drive (she had lost her dad, then husband, then mom and then her kid gets cancer. She is also a survivor, five years after me) so I didn’t tell her until later. When I came back to Florida I began the journey but for an uninsured woman, that is a completely different path starting at the health department.
What course of treatment were you prescribed?
I had a mastectomy and eight rounds of the “juice”.
What most surprised you about your treatment?
Surprised. Not really. Nothing surprised me. I took my meds and rolled with it one day at a time. I guess my compassion for nurses and those who take care of people in their darkest hours. When we think we are having a bad day at the job, imagine yourself a chemo nurse or doctor.
What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
If you are given a diagnosis of breast cancer nowadays, don’t panic. There are so many more advanced treatment opportunities than before. So many resources like Living Beyond Breast Cancer and the Young Survival Coalition (addressing concerns of women diagnosed under the age of 40) than ever before.
How long have you been cancer free?
Ten years this year.
What lessons did you learn from the experience?
It was just a chapter in the book of life. I learned that I didn’t let being a cancer patient at one point in my life define me as a woman, I was sick, I got better, it wasn’t my time and I am grateful. I only talk about that part of my life because of the charity that came from it. It wasn’t a “highlight” so why talk about it?
If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
Don’t tell your sad stories too often, you relive them every time and that makes it difficult to move past it. Don’t sweat the small stuff to the best of your ability every day and every way. Be grateful, love your kids and family and hopefully work, too. Live by the Golden Rule and make time for yourself, this ain’t no dress rehearsal. Take the time to go like My Hope Chest and learn more about my journey as well as many others. October is breast cancer ACTION month; please consider this important charity fighting to provide breast reconstruction and healing for uninsured women, the “final step of treatment.”
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