On May 2, 2014, I found a lump in my breast. Eleven days later, I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. I was 48 years old. My mother had been diagnosed at age 65 in 2003 with a very aggressive Stage 3 form of breast cancer and passed away two years later in 2005. I always thought in the back of my mind that I may one day be faced with breast cancer due to my mother’s history, but I did not think it would be at such a young age. I learned later that there are many women even much younger than me battling this disease and other forms of cancer.
I had a lumpectomy and 6 weeks of radiation. I was very fortunate that I did not have to endure chemotherapy due to the early stage of my cancer. I had a great support system, but after the surgery and treatment was over, I think everyone assumed I was fine. Well, I can tell you that I was not fine! I still needed support and understanding.
I learned of Women of Hope at the exact time I needed it, but I wish I had known of this wonderful organization from day one of my diagnosis! I went to a luncheon and a few months later attended the pilot cancer support group called ‘Woman in the Mirror’. Women with all different kinds of cancer attended the group sessions. We shared stories, cried together, prayed together and most importantly learned how to move on from cancer. After surgery, treatment and medication, your body just does not feel the same. I had always felt like I took care of myself very well, but I learned that there was more self-care that I needed. During the sessions, we had speakers share information about fitness, health and nutrition, beauty and more. We created ‘vision boards’ to visualize what we wanted in our future. I still look at my vision board every day! It helps me realize what I have achieved, and keeps me focused and grateful.
Cancer changed me forever, but in a good way. It was God’s little wake-up call for me. I will always be grateful to Elizabeth Barnes and Women of Hope for truly giving me the hope and faith to move on. Elizabeth is a blessing and she truly saved me!