Meet Mary Walden

Q: Where do you live?
A: St. George, UT
Q: How old were you when you were diagnosed with breast cancer?
A: 35 (1994)
Q: What was/is your diagnosis?
A: In-situ and invasive ductal adenocarcinoma Stage 1 ER+
Q: Can you describe some of the feelings that came with your diagnosis?
A: I was afraid. I thought I would die and I wasn’t ready to die. My daughter was 8 and she asked me if I was going to die. I told her no I wasn’t. So I had to live.
Q: What type of treatment did you go through?
A: I had a modified radical mastectomy of my right breast, chemotherapy, TRAM flap breast reconstruction and tamoxifen.
Q: Are you still in treatment? Or how long did treatment take?
A: I finished treatment on 1999. About a month after my mastectomy, I started chemotherapy. I did 5 treatments, three weeks apart.  A couple months after chemo, I started tamoxifen. I was on tamoxifen for 4 ½ years.
Q: Tell us how you felt during treatment. In real words.
A: I was sick and miserable. I lost my beautiful long hair. I gained weight and didn’t feel like being active. When I was diagnosed I thought I was going to die. When I went through chemotherapy I wished I would. I felt like I had the worst hangover and I couldn’t get rid of it.
Q: Did you have any cravings?
A: I don’t remember having any cravings. A nurse oncologist had mentioned to me not to eat any of my favorite foods during chemo because they wouldn’t be my faves anymore.
Q: Did anything completely turn you off?
A: I do remember being at work and occasionally someone would burn popcorn in the microwave. It took a long time for me to be able to eat popcorn again. I had a lot of heartburn and nausea.
Q: Describe your support system during your journey.
A: Friends at work were probably my best support system. My daughter kept me grounded and on track.
Q: Have any of your relationships changed since experiencing breast cancer?
A: I have lost touch with most of my friends from then mostly because so much time has gone by. Having breast cancer really showed me what a dick the guy I was married to was, so I kicked him to the curb.
Q: Have you gained new friends since your diagnosis?
A: I have gained new friends through different cancer groups including “Race for the Cure” and Image Reborn Foundation. I have participated in half a dozen breast cancer studies.
Q: Use some descriptive words to describe your breast cancer experience.
A: Shocked, afraid, anxious, angry, overwhelmed but a strong and resilient fighter. I am a warrior in pink! “Cancer sucks”
Q: How has your life changed for the better since your diagnosis?
A: Hind sight is 20/20. Twenty five plus years ago, I thought cancer would kill me. I prepared myself spiritually to not be afraid to die. I think I have been a little more outgoing. I do things that I want to do and I do things that make me happy.
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