Survivor Stories 2014:

Mary Ann Weakley


1. How did you first find out you had cancer?

I first discovered a lump in my breast during an exam in the shower.

2. How did you react when you heard the news?

I thought, “I don’t know what a cancer lump is supposed to feel like, but I better have this checked out.”

3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?

The doctor obviously knew what they are supposed to feel like because he took action immediately. When it was confirmed with a biopsy, the alternatives he suggested were my choice — radical breast removal or lumpectomy. Then depending on whether lymph nodes were infected, do chemotherapy or radiation.

4. What most surprised you about your treatment?

I chose lumpectomy, then received radiation. I was surprised at the toll the removal of the lymph nodes took on my body, arm movement, and strength. I was unaware of the importance of the lymph nodes. Breast was the most important thing on my mind.

5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?

My advice to those with a new cancer diagnosis, is to not panic. Face the situation, learn the alternatives, do what is necessary, and keep your thoughts always looking forward to complete recovery. Never dwell on the “what if” alternative.

6. How long have you been cancer free?

I have been cancer free for 17 years.

7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?

I learned that facing the situation with an attitude of “this is just a blip on my radar” is more than 50% of the successful recovery.

8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?

Don’t be fearful. Fear is paralyzing.

Mary Ann Weakley enjoyed twenty years as a nun in a Catholic convent in Illinois until she left due to a conflict with another nun that left her feeling rejected by the community. She later married and became an interior designer in Tennessee. Now a widow, Weakley lives in Florida and loves horses and travel. *Monastery to Matrimony* is the memoir Weakley wrote about her twenty years in the convent and her journey of faith. More at