My journey began approximately two years ago in the spring of 2018 when I found a lump and scheduled an appointment to see my doctor. At the time, I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to cause worry if it turned out to be nothing. I should have known better. My maternal aunt had breast cancer twice. However, she still lived to the age of 90. My father passed away 42 years ago from bone cancer at the age of 58. Because I had just turned 60, I thought maybe I was safe. That was not the case.

Once I was diagnosed, I followed all of my doctor’s recommendations and found a surgeon, a plastic surgeon, and an oncologist. The oncologist told me to try to live as I normally would. I remember my aunt having the best, most positive attitude throughout her own ordeal, and so I took that suggestion to heart.

To remain positive is truly the best advice anyone can give. Of course, there were still breakdowns and anger episodes. However, I got through it with support from John (my significant other), my family, and my closest friends. Had I not chosen both a positive outlook and to lean on my community, I may have entered a very dark place. During the hardest times, I kept saying to myself — REMAIN POSITIVE—you got this—cancer isn’t going to get me!

As I stated earlier John (the love of my life), my friends, and my family were my support, but there is also one very special lady that I must thank: a breast cancer survivor that I met at work. She is extraordinary. She has had relapse after relapse but keeps going and is still going today! She too helped me to move through this dark time.

Even before my diagnosis, I have always had a great outlook on life, but since my experience with breast cancer, no one (and I mean NO ONE) will ever be able to take it away. Of course, my loved ones have said to slow down and relax, but I say, “Do as much as you can, as often as you can!” We only have this one life, and I am going to live it as I see fit!

In addition to remaining positive, I also found support through 2 Japanese proverbs I would like to share:
1) No road is long with a friend at your side.
2) Even a thousand-mile journey has its first steps.
(This gave me the strength to know that eventually there will be light at the end of the tunnel—for me the light is starting to shine even more brightly as I am hoping this next surgery (my 6th in 2 years due to complications) will be my last.)

I want to thank my plastic surgeon, Dr. Brian Pinsky, for listening to me when I cried, yelled, and cursed but always got me through—you rock!!!
In closing, I wish you all nothing but the best that life has to offer. Remember, REMAIN POSITIVE, I can’t say it enough. Thank you for allowing me to share my story.