I remember the day that I received that dreaded phone call. The woman on the other end said, "It's cancer. It's grade 3, and it's not small." I couldn't catch my breath. Although I have a history of breast cancer in my family, I'd had genetic testing a few years before. The results were negative and I mistakenly thought I was in the clear.
Before meeting with any doctors or starting treatment, I spoke with a few friends who had already been through the process. A mutual friend connected me with Alexis Sebastian, who was going through chemotherapy, and agreed to meet me for coffee. When I saw her with a gorgeous wig and perfect lipstick, I thought to myself, "Wow. She looks great! She's doing this, and I can do it too".
We talked over coffee and discovered we both had the same type of cancer: Triple positive invasive ductal carcinoma. It is an aggressive form of cancer but has a very specific effective treatment protocol. Our treatment plans were almost identical. Thanks to Alexis' recommendation and support from The Pink Pamper, I received a beautiful wig from Hair Enhancements of Pittsburgh. I began my journey. I prayed to God to help me through.
During my treatment, I had wonderful support from friends, my sons, my parents, and my loving and hilarious husband, who often supported me by wearing one of my wigs to treatment! When the treatments were almost complete, Alexis and I began going to some support group dinners with YWBCAF. These were both emotional and very uplifting for both of us. We were shocked to learn that so many young women were dealing with cancer. We were both diagnosed in our 40's and were feeling young and healthy at the time.
Through our Facebook cancer support group, I met Dani Grass, who introduced me to the idea of dragon boating. Alexis and I attended a meeting in Fox Chapel with Dani's breast cancer survivor team called Pink Steel. We began to support and encourage each other to attend the practices. We were weak, but we were excited! We decided to join the team. This has been an amazing journey of new friendships, competition, and empowerment! A team of survivors is a force to be reckoned with! It was also on our long commutes to Fox Chapel that we discussed our desire to focus on building home-based businesses, and scaling back on our day jobs. We both are currently selling Neora, and the clean skincare and wellness products fit perfectly with being cancer survivors.
I wouldn't ever say that cancer was a blessing. However, I probably wouldn't have met my dear friend Alexis without having been diagnosed. I wouldn't have met the lovely ladies of the YWBCAF support group. We wouldn't be volunteering with The Pink Pamper charity to help women in treatment. I wouldn't have the freedom to work from home and the confidence to reduce my daily work stress. I don't think I would be as grateful as I am for every day that I wake up! I sure as heck wouldn't be dragon boating!!