Survivor Stories 2014:
1. How did you first find out you had cancer?
I found a lump during a BSE while showering. I had a routine check-up already scheduled with my family dr. the following week so I brought it to her attention and she immediately had me scheduled for a diagnostic mammogram.
2. How did you react when you heard the news?
Brief shock and numbness, and then when my husband reacted with shock and grief, I decided it wasn’t going to be healthy to be stressful and sad about it. I took a private moment to shed some tears and then I tossed that feeling all out so I could concentrate and what was needed to be done and to become well.
3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?
I was prescribed neo-adjuvant chemotherapy of 4 rounds of Taxatere/Gemzar/Avastin and then 4 rounds of Cytoxan/Adriamycin/Avastin(al chemo was every 3 weeks and consisted of clinical trial drugs mixed in with the standard drugs for Triple Negative IDC Breast Cancer), then surgery, and then 35 rounds of radiation
4. What most surprised you about your treatment?
The chemotherapy worked so well that I had a complete pathogenic response. The 2+cm tumor was completely gone by the time of surgery.
5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
Don’t give up hope.
Allow yourself a brief period of tears and sorrow for the diagnosis, and then brush it off because the lesser the stress the better for physical and mental well being during treatment.
Seek out things that bring you joy. Laugh, laugh, laugh. Let the medical staff do the worrying.
Accept the help from those who come, but forgive those who disappear for a while. Not everyone can handle the emotions of watching a family member or friend go through such a time. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you.
Get involved in support groups. The friendships you make will last forever because you share a connection others will not understand.
6. How long have you been cancer free?
I am clinically cancer free 4 years and 4 months.
7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?
I am much stronger than I ever realized and more loved than I ever knew.
8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
Be good to yourself, mentally and physically. We only get one life so treat yourself with all the good are you can. Eat nutritiously, exercise, maintain a good body weight, and stay active, but most of all…….please do the things that bring you joy. Make memories, not regrets.
Cheryl is a wife, mother, grandmother, and was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer in the Fall of 2009. She spends her days fundraising for various cancer organizations, as a mentor to current patients, and stays active with survivors in various activities, including traveling. She loves to cook and decorate for holidays and enjoys hosting anyone who crosses her threshold.