At age 41, with no significant family history, I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Cinco de Mayo 2009. After work that day (I am a nurse) I went to my doctor because of a lump that puckered my skin. I knew what it meant, I just needed confirmation. Like all others affected by cancer, this day changed my life irrevocably. Though given the choice to change circumstances, I wouldn't.
I was able to continue to work in the Interventional Radiology department of my hospital, where, incidentally, many newly diagnosed cancer patients have procedures: biopsies, port placements, drains, etc. I had something special to share with my patients; we were on the same team fighting the same disease. I could guide them a little with my own experience. My work was not too physically taxing, and I had the incredible support of my team. So much so, that my department began wearing pink on Wednesdays to support me. Some shaved their heads to match me. (As did my husband and some of his coworkers). This Pink Wednesday slowly spread across the hospital, and on the day of our annual company picnic in 2009, I was surprised by an announcement asking all those wearing pink to report to pose for a photo. I went to investigate, and found over 70 people standing together in support of my fight.
I have 2 more surgeries until reconstruction is complete. But fortunately, I can say I've been cancer free for 21 months. I hope the deep connection I feel with others, particularly in my work, never leaves. I have found that as I go on this journey, and it is not over yet, I am driven to help others so that no one has to go through this alone. I was blessed by an amazing outpouring of support, which in turn I have shared with both coworkers diagnosed subsequently, the patients I care for at the hospital, friends, and acquaintances.
I've enclosed the picture I took of my first chemo session, portraying the attitude I've carried this whole journey. I am grateful for my experience and the lessons it brought to me, but will continue to do what I can to fight this disease on all fronts. Thank you.