Survivor Stories 2014:
1. How did you first find out you had cancer?
While visiting my PCP for a checkup, I decided to let her feel a lump I had noticed about two weeks before, which I thought was nothing. She then suggested a mammogram and ultrasound. I received a call the following day to come in for a biopsy. The next week I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.
2. How did you react when you heard the news?
I was completely shocked. I never even imagined this could happen to me. My mother was a little more emotional than me. She is a survivor as well. I then started reading and doing as much research as I could. I wanted to know as much as I could. I wanted to make the best decisions for my care and I knew I would have to be completely informed in order to do this.
3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?
I went through six rounds of chemotherapy; I had a double mastectomy, reconstruction surgery, and 18 rounds of radiation.
4. What most surprised you about your treatment?
The thing that surprised me the most is that I wasn’t as sick as I thought I would be. Yes, there was a little nausea and definitely a lack of energy, but far less than I had imagined.
5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
I know the thought of this journey can be terrifying; however, you must take control over your health. Become aware, find out everything you can about your diagnosis. Don’t be afraid to talk to others, their experience can help you become informed as well as help you with coping. Surround yourself with thoughts that are positive and support.
6. How long have you been cancer free?
I have been cancer free since January 3, 2014.
7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?
There are many that have shared my journey. Learn to share your story – it may make it easier for others to share theirs. I never knew how strong I was until I was faced with cancer. The better you know the better prepared you are to make informed decisions. Choose a care team that has your best interest at heart and see you as an individual not just as a cancer patient.
8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
Stay as positive as possible. Continue to be strong and never give up hope nor faith. This too shall pass.
Natalie is a 37-year-old mother of 2 children (son and a 19-year-old daughter) who lives in Suffolk, VA.