Survivor Stories 2013:
How did you first find out you had cancer?
I found out I had cancer from a routine mammogram when I was 48. I had had seven prior clean mammograms.
How did you react when you heard the news?
When I heard I had breast cancer I was shocked. I was fit, busy and I thought healthy! My mammogram was textbook perfect. In fact, the surgeon showed me a picture of breast cancer in a mammogram from a textbook, and my mammogram and the picture were almost identical. There was no disputing, no doubt, no need for a second opinion.
What course of treatment were you prescribed?
I chose breast conservation, a lumpectomy. The lumpectomy showed the cancer was invading my lymph nodes, so my treatment options were ramped up to include six chemotherapy treatments followed by seven weeks of daily radiation treatments.
What most surprised you about your treatment?
What surprised me most about my treatments was how awful I felt–the tiredness and overall fatigue.
What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
For the newly diagnosed with cancer, I strongly recommend becoming your own advocate. Put your own team of supporters, friends, and family together. Know who can go with you to treatments, give rides, and help with groceries and cooking. Seek out all the resources your hospital offers, be they support groups or home cleaning services. If you can’t do this yourself, send in one from your team. Eliminate any negative people, naysayers, and cancer “want-to-bes” from your team.
How long have you been cancer free?
I have been cancer free 11 years.
What lessons did you learn from the experience?
I learned that surviving cancer was a brave achievement. I thought to myself, since I survived this I can take on becoming an entrepreneur. Cancer gave me courage to move forward and enjoy life on my own terms.
If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
If a friend or loved one is diagnosed with cancer, offer support–not solutions or unsolicited advise. Cleaning their house, making a dinner, grocery shopping, weekly phone calls, texts, just so they know that you are thinking of them and are there for them. Flowers and cards are nice, but treatments drag on for months. Be sure to tell your friend or family member you are on their team, and are there for them not matter how long it takes.
Haralee Weintraub spent 25 years working for Fortune 500 and 100 companies in sales, marketing, training, and management. In 2002, with her invasive breast cancer diagnosis, she looked closely at her career path. Haralee was familiar with wicking clothing from the gym, the tennis courts, the slopes and the trails. She could not find the same performance clothing for sleepwear. The sweat equation, whether from physical exercise or night sweats, was the same–Sweat = Hot = Cold = Miserable.
With an old sewing machine and bike short fabric, she made her first prototype nightgown. It was heavy, but it worked. She found more sleep-friendly fabric and made another sample and took it to her breast cancer support group. They went wild with enthusiasm. Two years after her initiation into the world of breast cancer, she started Haralee.Com Sleepwear with her goal to make cool garments for hot women. As CEO, Haralee is involved in every aspect of the company–designing the styles, picking fabric colors, as well as the promoting and marketing of the line. She is devoted to helping eradicate breast cancer and donates a portion of every sale to breast cancer research.
Haralee is a spokeswoman for the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Oregon and Southwest Washington. She is a former executive board member of the Clara Jean Foundation. She is also a blogger for Empowher and Vibrant Nation.