Congratulations to you and your daughter. I was just in a fashion show a couple of weeks ago for Pink Ribbon Connection in Indianapolis IN. Believe me, this was way out of my comfort zone. I find in the last 4+ yrs since I was diagnosed that I can do a lot of things I couldn't before. I have a different mindset. Once you start talking, the passion will come through and you'll be fine.
The models were all survivors and we had to complete a form which helped the organizers put a story together. For what it's worth, here's mine. The questions will help you put a story together.
2. How and when was your breast cancer detected?
3. Briefly describe the diagnosis, development, and treatment of your breast cancer.
The routine mammogram was questionable, so went back for a follow up, ultrasound and biopsy. I met with my primary, oncologist, breast surgeon and plastic surgeon within 10 days. Had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, 12 wks of chemo, no radiation.
4. Do you have a family history of breast cancer? If yes, briefly describe. Not really.
The only one I know about is a 2d cousin on my mother’s side.
5. Describe your current occupation. Sourcing coordinator for Dow AgroSciences R&D
Sample Services. I source materials needed for the formulation scientists.
6. How did you become aware of the services offered by Pink Ribbon Connection?
Through connections with Komen and doing some volunteer work
7. Describe your support system for dealing with this challenge (e.g., family, friends, support groups, medical specialists, professional peers, etc.)
I had an outstanding support system with family (my sister-in-law and mother-in-law had both experienced breast cancer), my husband, daughter, friends and work cohorts. I was probably most surprised by some of my work cohorts, people I had worked with for a number of years but not socialized with, but who took a personal interest in my recovery. I was able to work from home when needed, which I believe was mentally therapeutic. The doctors have been fantastic. I have complete trust in them and always felt like I was treated as an individual, not just another patient.
8. Describe the challenges you faced with your breast cancer experience and how you have dealt with them (include any favored survival techniques).
As a matter of fact, I felt more prepared than most, having had many late night conversations with my sister-in-law while she was going through her chemo and reconstruction. I knew what I was going to do if I was ever diagnosed, therefore not having to go through much of the anguish and uncertainty that others do. My husband was self-employed and not very busy at the time so I had his extra attention and care through the surgeries and chemo. Had some minor side effects from the chemo, but overall felt very fortunate. I never felt like I was going to die, but I do think about recurrence fairly often. I participate in studies, informational studies and talk with my sister-in-law and other survivors.
9. How has this experience changed your life?
Most of all, after 50 years, I learned how to laugh at myself. Although I always thought I had my priorities straight, I make sure they stay that way. I’m more laid back in some areas, have less tolerance for pettiness. I appreciate what I have and worry less about what I don’t. I enjoy talking with other women and answering their questions, offering the same kind of support my sister-in-law gave me.
10. Describe a humorous or uplifting time during your breast cancer experience.
My husband always rubbed my shaved head when we were sitting watching TV and telling me how beautiful I was. What can be better than that?
Chemobrain and hot flashes – can’t hide it so I laugh about it – something I wouldn’t have been able to do 20 yrs ago. When I can’t remember something, I tell them I have several excuses – chemobrain, hot flashes that are burning the brain cells, menopause or having too much to remember – take your pick.
I remember a hug from a fellow co-worker, someone I had worked with for several years but hadn’t considered a close friend. It made me feel that everyone was in this with me.
Talking about breast cancer has become a passion – to pay forward the support I received. I feel energized after these conversations rather than drained. If I can take some of the fear away, I feel good. If I happen to pass on some information to someone who will need to make decisions in the future, I feel good.