When I got breast cancer I thought I would go through my treatment, get cured and go back to my normal life. My primary treatment with breast cancer happened in 2005 consisting of a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. In February 2007, my doctors found a local recurrence caught early, yet it kept my breast cancer with me because I ended up having so many breast surgeries. I started having a bilateral mastectomy with tissue expanders to implants, and I am still going through completing my reconstruction because of many complications due to my radiated breast.
The truth of the matter is my life changed completely. I left Los Angeles and went to live in Tennessee after my recurrence so I could be closer to my family, only to have my father die of pancreatic cancer and my brother get sick and die of esophageal cancer. Luckily I have my mom, my sister, my nieces and nephews, plus awesome friends.
While in Tennessee I volunteered at the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center in the chemotherapy infusion center to try to help others going through chemotherapy. I also volunteered with the American Cancer Society at the Hope Lodge where people too far away from the hospitals in Nashville stayed for free at a beautiful Lodge with other cancer patients, so they could get treatment for cancer.
I returned to live in Los Angeles after my brother died and his family left Nashville, where my best friend Lila was starting to show signs that her breast cancer was progressing rapidly. She died five months later. People have told me I have intuitive instincts about where to live. I have been fortunate to end up living where I am needed the most.
The biggest change within me is that I find small problems not worth fixating on since life is too short and important. I try to live each day to the fullest since I realize now that we will never know when it will be our time. I am grateful that I lived through my treatment and that now I can believe I am cancer free, but one never really knows. In the back of my mind I am always wondering whether it will come back, perhaps because I have so many friends who are in that situation.
I feel devoted to breast cancer issues as well as my breast cancer advocacy. I surround myself with mostly other survivors because I feel most connected with them. I also joined a support group which used to have eight women till Lila died from breast cancer and now we are seven. We meet once a month at one of the members houses depending upon who hosts for the month.
As a result of this horrible disease, I have met so many interesting people who have enriched my life in so many ways. I have to accept that I am right where I belong, and I have this wonderful opportunity with my non-profit company to help the lives of people affected by breast cancer.
For more information about my non-profit company “Advocates for Breast Cancer”, read “About Us”.