Survivor Stories 2013:
Mary Beth White
1. How did you first find out you had cancer?
I went in for my yearly mammogram check-up cool as a cucumber because I had no family history of breast cancer and I hadn’t experienced any symptoms. That was until my physician, Dr. Andrew Kenler, told me he had found a suspicious lump, during my mammogram in my right breast and wanted to do a surgical biopsy.
At the time of my biopsy procedure I also had a DNA test (called know error system) to ensure that the diagnosis was truly my own. Prior to my biopsy examination, my physician relayed that in some instances biopsy samples can be mislabeled, contaminated or switched and cause patients to receive an incorrect diagnosis. After learning this I did not want to take any chances. The test was a simple, painless cheek swab to collect my DNA and it was sent along to the lab with my biopsy sample. The DNA from the cheek swab is compared against a cancerous biopsy sample to ensure the identity of the patient before diagnosis and treatment is rendered.
A few days later I went to go see my physician and I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer.
2. How did you react when you heard the news?
I never panicked when I was diagnosed. I felt oddly calm and I never doubted that I would be okay. For me, there was no other option. I knew that I had to be strong to ease the worry my family would have once I told them the news and for my own ability to beat my disease.
3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?
I underwent a partial mastectomy, a short round of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation and reconstruction in both my right and left breast.
4. What most surprised you about your treatment?
I was most surprised at what a positive experience it was. Every person involved in my diagnosis and treatment was exceptional. Instead of dreading my appointments, I looked forward to seeing the people who had become friends to me.
5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
My advice to those recently diagnosed is to make sure you connect with your medical team. It’s important as you’re going through your treatment process that you are able to communicate well with your physicians – it really eases any additional worry. Put together a plan for treatment and take it one day at a time. Finally, reach out to resources available to you for extra support and information – they are there for you and it’s important to take advantage of those services.
6. How long have you been cancer free?
I have been in remission since August of 2012 and am living every day to its fullest!
7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?
Surround yourself with only positive influences. Negativity can be devastating during treatment.
8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
Whether you know someone with breast cancer, have it, or are even going in for testing, be sure to know all of the facts about the process – from mammogram to treatment. One of the reasons why I am satisfied with my medical team and why I went to Dr. Kenler is because he used all of the technology to ensure that I received the best treatment for me. By using tests, such as the know error system, I was able to be 100 percent confident that I was getting what I needed to beat my disease and that I was going to get better. It is important to be educated on your health and all the resources available to you.
Mary Beth White was born raised in Southern Connecticut to a large Irish/Italian family. White attended business school after high school, although did not find her true calling until she left the corporate world after several years to become police officer. Mary Beth has been a police officer for 22 years. She also operates her own jewelry design business called WHIM ORIGINALS. Since her diagnosis, Mary Beth has used her jewelry business to start a “pink link” where she sells customized Breast Cancer Awareness bracelets. Fifty percent of the proceeds of each sale go to different local breast cancer charities that helped her when I was going through treatment.