On September 30, 2011, I felt as if my world shifted. My doctor said I had breast cancer. I knew it was inevitable. My mother, two aunts and two cousins were all cancer survivors — but I wasn’t prepared for it to come so soon. I was only 43 years old. I could not detect any lumps, but the mammogram surely did.
I was diagnosed with DCIS, which is the beginning stage. It was in three different areas of the breast and my only option was a mastectomy. With my family history, I decided to have the other breast removed as well. After surgery, the pathology report showed invasive breast cancer — something the mammogram didn’t catch. My doctor recommended chemotherapy.
I kept my spirits up by trying to keep as much of a daily routine as possible. I have my own business, so I continued to work while going through chemo. I kept the date of my last treatment above my desk, so each day I knew I was getting closer to putting this experience behind me.
A friend told me about a treatment that helps prevent hair loss during chemo. It involves wearing a hypothermia cap. The doctors didn’t believe in it, but they let me wear it anyway, and after my second round of treatments they couldn’t believe I still had my hair. That gave me a sense of control.
Gilda’s Club was a safe haven for me. I enrolled in their yoga classes to help me physically and mentally, and they were also a source of support for my family. My advice is to educate yourself, and don’t be afraid to get second opinions. Gilda’s Club and organizations like it, help you stay positive in a difficult time. My mother-in-law has been a volunteer at Gilda’s Club for more than 14 years, and my husband and I started a charity event called “The Next Generation in Flight” to benefit the organization.
I am now coming up on one year since my diagnosis. During my journey, I learned nothing really matters except family and health. My new outlook on life is that most things aren’t worth stressing over, because in the long run, they really don’t matter.