Five years as a breast cancer survivor!
It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since one phone call changed my life in such a profound way. It was 9:30 on Thursday night, August 2, 2007 when I got the call. The tiny lump that had been removed 3 days earlier was breast cancer.
Five years later, I look back on that moment. I had no idea what the next day or the next year would bring. I just knew I had a fight in front of me, and I was going to do whatever it took to win. Exactly nine months later, the crazy whirlwind of regular trips to the hospital and the Rose Cancer Center was behind me. I was done with five surgeries and six chemo treatments. My hair started growing back and life returned to normal. But life was different. My outlook was brighter. I’d emerged triumphantly from cancer but I knew there were far too many women who didn’t. My focus shifted from my own fight to theirs. I decided I had to continue to fight on their behalf—to honor their memories. I had to continue to fight so that no other woman had to experience the pain and suffering of saying goodbye to their families. Our fight is far from over.
I don’t ever regret my experience with cancer. It’s a rotten disease—the surgeries were painful, the treatments were tiring. At times, I had to let go of my primary role as a mother because I just wanted to sleep. Losing that sense of control was hard, but it taught me so much. It shaped me as a person, as a mother, as a managing partner at my agency, as a cancer fundraiser, as a mentor to newly diagnosed women. It changed the way I view life, the way I view my family, the way I manage my team and my priorities. It made me realize that there is nothing more important than smiling, laughing and having fun. It made me realize the value of making other people smile, of making other people happy, of lending a helping hand. Yes, I’m different than I was five years ago. My experience with breast cancer shaped me into the person I am today, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.