The first thought that raced through my mind was, “I can’t believe this is happening again.”
I heard the diagnosis that no one wants to hear, and it wasn’t the first time. “It’s breast cancer.” No, it wasn’t the first time—it was the third time. It baffled me. It frustrated me. It saddened me. It made me question, “How could I do everything recommended, yet here I was in the same place.”
In 2016 and 2017, I completed the traditional treatment plan: magic wand (aka chemo), surgery, buzz (aka radiation), antibodies, and alternative modalities. I changed my lifestyle and collaborated with a nutritionist, herbalist, and aromatherapist to become healthier. I cut out sugar and white foods. I bought organic groceries and had the food bill to show it. I researched everything I could to prevent recurrence and followed the recommendations. My daughter-in-law and friends Bev, Kimber, and Laura sent articles and video links when they encountered something significant. Yet, that wicked pink ribbon dis-ease invaded again in July of 2019 and again in October of 2022.
Is it easier the third time around? No! Definitely not! Not at all.
What you’ve experienced through past diagnoses and the insights you gained helps you prepare moving forward. You know most of the nuances, from side effects to continual testing that come with the diagnosis. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that no one understands unless you’ve walked this path or watched someone dealing with them. The rough days become a pattern that you can work around. You become stronger. Determined. You rely on your faith, core values, and strong support system.
Although the dis-ease occurred within my body, it goes beyond me. It’s so much more than me. Each diagnosis impacted my family. It hurts to see them get angry, sad, and worried. And on the flip side, my heart swells when I think about the love, generosity, and hope they share with me. The hugs last a little longer. The calls and texts always end with “I love you.”
My daughter-in-law, Kristy, sent weekly gifts and front-door deliveries, from flowers to dinners and everything in between. My son, Josh, combined his passion for marathons to organize two fundraisers during Pinktober 2021 and 2023, bringing awareness to breast cancer while raising money for Young Women’s Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation. As I’m a third-generation breast cancer warrior, Josh, with a five-year-old daughter, recognized how crucial it is to find a cure for the health of future generations.
Then, there were pretty robes and pajamas for each hospital visit from my daughter. My friend Toni drove me to every intense “magic wand” treatment so my kids didn’t have to take time off work. Toni came with a supply of vegetable noodle soup and banana bread. Two staples I managed to eat.
I wouldn’t be able to maintain my business if it weren’t for my colleagues, who have been close friends.
They cheered me on, worked on my business plans with me, and offered to fill in with clients without taking a cent.
Then, the forward-thinking non-profit organizations, such as Young Women’s Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation co-founded by Jen Kehm, support women through education, grants, and events. With Jen’s wealth of breast cancer knowledge and generosity of spirit, she’s become a vital part of this “Pink Ribbon Journey” and, more importantly, a friend.
I’m so thankful to live in a city with incredible healthcare, alternative modalities, and my collaborative relationship with my medical team. And I’ve only mentioned a smidgen of people walking on this journey with me.
As cliché as it sounds, it takes a village when you’ve been diagnosed with a life-threatening dis-ease such as breast cancer. You’re so grateful and appreciative of the people who will put their actions behind their words. Every day might not be a good one, but “my village” gives me the gift of finding something good in every day.