Years ago, say the word cancer and it was an automatic death sentence. Not so today. So much so that June 5, 2011 is declared National Cancer Survivors Day.
We could talk about the millions of dollars that goes toward cancer research, or the new procedures implemented, or even the new, innovative medicines making treatment options simpler and better. But really, I’d rather just let my family friend, Mrs. B,. express her feelings, especially since she is a cancer survivor herself.
Mrs. B., tell us briefly what your view of life and goals were like before the cancer diagnosis.
My view in life is very simple, God is always first then family and friends. I work with children every day from the ages of 3-5 and I enjoy it when a child has left the program and achieve their goal[s]; it makes me feel great that I am doing something right. Before I was diagnosed with cancer [I] was looking forward to retiring, volunteering, traveling, spending more time with my grandchildren and enjoying more time with my spouse.
Did you have any previous experience with anyone who had cancer before? How did it affect you?
Yes, my grandfather, mother, and sister all had cancer. It made me always wonder if I would have cancer. Since cancer seems to run in the family, I had genetic testing done to see if anyone else will be predisposed of having cancer just because of genetics. The test came out negative so I don’t believe I will be passing any cancerous genes on. But, yes, it did really affect me because I always felt that it was possible that I would have cancer.
When the doctor told you that you had breast cancer, how did it make you feel? How do you feel today?
First, I was speechless; [but] it was not a shock because of the family history. I felt okay because my sister had just finished and she did great so I thought I would do just as fine. My biggest fear was telling my husband, daughters and son. Our family became even closer – even the extended family. That togetherness helped me to keep everything together and I am so thankful to everyone for being there in the time of need.
What is your view of life and goals after your diagnosis?
Quit procrastinating and do the things that you value and do not take friends and family for granted. My goals are the same except that I would like to go back to college and take more than one vacation a year.
Do you feel like you are a survivor? Explain.
Yes, I am a breast cancer survivor and feel good about what the future holds for me. During my treatments, it was amazing how people from different backgrounds were going through the same thing. Everyone has a story about how they felt, what they were going through, and how positive their attitudes and outlook [are] for the future.
What would you tell others in regard to what they need to do in order to survive their struggle?
First, I tell women to make sure they do a self-examination on themselves. Get their yearly mammogram or however often the doctor recommends for them. I tell them there are different stages of cancer and the earlier you can detect it the greater your chances of survival no matter what type of cancer you have. During my journey through this time there was a circle of love that surrounded me. I had family, friends, church members [and] co-workers who always kept me smiling and informed. They kept my spirits high; they truly were a blessing. So let your friends and family be a part of your journey as you travel back to good health.
Words of wisdom, don’t you agree? Best in health to all.
For more information on National Cancer Survivors Day, please click here.