Breast Cancer: For Our Clients and Our Team, it’s Personal
Breast cancer touches everyone’s life and heart in a different way. Last year the JB Ashtin team shared a blog filled with inspirational stories from our own staff members (http://goo.gl/4ykkpc). This October we wanted to build on that platform, and we invited our clients to contribute their own stories in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.
We were moved by tales of commitment and compassion. We were also surprised to learn that someone close to us was fighting her own brave battle. The JB Ashtin team is honored to make a donation in their names to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF). NBCF strives to provide free mammograms for women in need. To learn more about NBCF, visit http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/.
Our Client Shares Her Personal Journey
My doctor recommended I start annual mammograms in my mid 30s due to a number of benign breast issues I had beginning at a very young age and the fact I have dense breast tissue. There appears to be a correlation with that and developing breast cancer later in life. Later in life for me ended up being at 41 years old. After a routine mammogram and subsequent needle biopsy, I got THE CALL on a Wednesday morning while in the middle of a meeting. No family history. I’m extremely healthy. I never saw it coming.
After that day, cancer became my second full time job. I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, which is particularly hard to treat because it does not respond to the medications currently available. Only about 15% of breast cancer is triple negative, it is highly aggressive, and tends to affect young women. The course of treatment I was told would be surgery, chemo, and then radiation. I was lucky it was stage 1 and no node involvement.
What I would like to tell those who are diagnosed is that there are options even within a “standard” course of treatment. I was told initially I would need 16 rounds of chemo. I ended up receiving 4 after I researched my treatment options including reading up on clinical trials and interviewing 4 oncologists. I was told I would absolutely lose my hair. Today, two months after finishing chemo, I still have my hair thanks to Penguin Caps. I was also concerned that I would not be myself throughout this period but I am forever grateful to my oncologist who strongly encouraged me to keep plugging along, exercising, etc., and to also complement my treatment with acupuncture and other holistic options. For me, picking the right oncologist was one of the most important decisions I have made in my whole life.
Today I am halfway through radiation and most days I feel exactly like I did before I started treatment. I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful people, most of all my husband and mom, in my life who supported me throughout this period. I could not have gotten through it without them.
A Mother’s Courage is Revealed to a Young Bride
When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she didn’t tell me for a few months so it wouldn’t cast a shadow on my wedding planning. When I found out, I was mad that she didn’t tell me at first, but recognized her ever-present selflessness in that act. My mother lives alone, so when she had chemo and surgery, I traveled from Illinois to Florida to give her assistance and support. It is a most challenging and uncomfortable position for a child to be the caretaker of a parent. Thankfully, I gained a lot of strength from my mother and I was happy to have the opportunity to help her. She is now 10 years cancer-free, and I’m so proud of her for facing her battle with grace and persistence! With timely detection and treatment, I hope all survivors have the opportunities my mother has.
A Supportive Friend Completes the 60-Mile Walk for the Cure
In July 2010 my graduate school roommate was diagnosed with breast cancer. With no family history and no history of any abnormal screenings it was a shock. You don’t expect something like that at the age of 33. That is supposed to be the time when you’re building your life, not thinking about everything that could fall apart. Flash forward to today, she’s in complete remission and doing fantastic. She’s grown so tremendously from her journey and I have too. I wouldn’t want anyone in the world to have to experience what she did, but on the flipside the lessons about strength and fortitude that it taught us were irreplaceable. One of my proudest moments was completing the 3-day, 60 MILE, walk for the cure with her. She, fresh out of treatment with not a hair on her head, walked every step of the 60 miles by my side. And I was so thankful to have her there . . . .
Remember, it only takes one person to make a difference, and that person could be you!