Q: Where do you live?
A: Riverton, Utah
Q: How old were you when you were diagnosed with breast cancer?
Q: What was/is your diagnosis?
A: Invasive ductal carcinoma stage 2A
Q: Can you describe some of the feelings that came with your diagnosis?
A: Shock and sadness. I was 3 years old when my mom lost her mom to breast cancer at age 50. My mom always worried about getting cancer and in turn so did I. I also cared for my mom during her breast cancer battle which ultimately took her life at age 49. I was scared but determined to change the course of the women in my family affected by this disease. I want to see my kids grow up and I want to see the world!
Q: Are you still in treatment? Or how long did treatment take?
A: Yes, hormone therapy; 3 years down, 2 to go.
Q: What type of treatment did you go through?
A: Double mastectomy and reconstruction followed by 5 years of hormone therapy.
Q: Tell us how you felt during treatment. In real words.
A: Humbled, scared, sad, grateful, anxious, angry; just cycled through all the emotions. Questions come up like, why? how? There are no good answers to those questions, rather you grieve your loss of your body part or dreams and you eventually, hopefully, are able to adapt to your new normal and become grateful for each new day that you have live.
Q: Did you have any cravings?
A: No food cravings; just craving to travel again.
Q: Did anything completely turn you off?
A: People saying ignorant things like, “at least you get a boob job”.
Q: Describe your support system during your journey.
A: I had amazing support from family, friends and neighbors. I had help bathing, shopping, cleaning, cooking, traveling to appointments. I felt very loved and supported.
Q: Have any of your relationships changed since experiencing breast cancer?
A: My relationship with myself. I am not as hard on myself anymore….time is precious and shouldn’t be wasted being mean to yourself. I also learned who in my life were true friends and family….those who can show up when things are uncomfortable.
Q: Have you gained new friends since your diagnosis?
A: Yes, a lot. Survivor groups are so helpful to survivorship and recovery. It’s so reassuring to know there are people who understand you and can help you navigate the cancer world.
Q: Use some descriptive words to describe your breast cancer experience.
A: Grief, gratitude, humility, compassion, love, anger, sadness, joy.
Q: How has your life changed for the better since your diagnosis?
A: I know that I am resilient; that I can do hard things. I am more grateful for and a better manager of the time I have; time with family and friends. Grateful for the body I have to experience the world.