I remember being sooooo young! Just 35 with a 2-year-old and a 10-month-old and taking the kids to the park after being diagnosed that day. I also remember thinking, "Why are all these people walking around like nothing's wrong? Don't they know the whole world has just changed---I HAVE CANCER!"
Although we have never met in person, or even talked on the phone, Patricia was my email breast buddy through it all. She gave me a mantra to say prior to my surgeries,
"My surgery will go perfectly, my pathology will be clean".
I would change the words as needed to suit the circumstances. She, and some of the women she put in touch with me, helped me keep my sense of humor...and kept reminding me that I could do this.
The first few days were a blur. Tests and sticks and tears were all that those days included. Once I was diagnosed with stage 3 intraductal breast cancer, I was given a 20% chance of surviving 5 years due to my advanced stage
and the size of my mass.
Could you imagine? Well, if you are reading this, maybe you can imagine.
I do recall how important it was for me to know that there were people out there that had gone before me and experienced the same thing I was about to face.
For nine months and beyond, my breast buddies made me feel like a real person.
I especially liked that I didn't need to see them, but could do it by e-mail or phone because I didn't want it to be "in my face" all the time.
I also found that I wasn't the "support group"
type. I was young. I had two children. I worked full time. I had a life to live, so I wasn't looking for one more meeting or to hear from others
who had a different attitude than I. I wanted to link up with people one-on-one who wanted to get through this or were already through this and found the positive in the experience and then moved on with their lives.
My local breast buddies helped me also by assisting with my kids, cleaning my yard, doing my work in the office, cooking meals, etc. I realized how fortunate I was. A year later we helped someone we didn't know who wasn't so fortunate, and out of that we began a non-profit foundation. Since then, we've helped more than 600 families going through cancer.
That was 9 years ago. Today I am more fit and healthy than ever. I think the breastbuddy website will help more women than we will ever know.