Purpose, Forever Friendships, Happiness, Fulfillment: one may not immediately think of these words when faced with a cancer diagnosis. I certainly did not, but after the initial symptoms, discomfort, fear, and fatigue dissipated, my life changed forever…but for the best.
Unfortunately, too many people have had cancer diagnoses. No one in my family had a history, so I was surprised seven years ago to be diagnosed with breast cancer (stage 2b infiltrating ductal carcinoma with two positive lymph nodes). Due to my stage and cancer type, I had treatment options. So, I proceeded with a lumpectomy (with a couple of re-excision surgeries), aggressive chemotherapy, radiation and tamoxifen treatments.
My family and friends supported me throughout my treatments, but I knew that a support system of women that experienced similar feelings and symptoms would be beneficial. I had so many questions…I knew they could help. However, I am an introvert by nature, and it was not easy to reach out and attend my first women’s cancer support group. In fact, my dear friend attended the first couple of meetings with me because otherwise, I may have backed out. It only took a couple of sessions, but the support from these strangers quickly became friendships and a bright spot throughout treatments and beyond. I was very fortunate to meet Bobbie Menneg who was also at the beginning of her cancer journey. We should acknowledge that Bobbie and I are very different personalities, but our commonalities brought us together – bonded by cancer and hope. Bobbie kept me coming back to the meetings; she checked on me even when she wasn’t feeling at her best, she encouraged me to volunteer and ultimately “enjoy life.” She is a champion, and one of the most special people in my life.
So, this is how cancer helped me become me. I’m not saying that every day is easy or joyful, but cancer brought many positive changes. It helped me become a happier person, develop confidence and lifelong friendships, and find my purpose in helping others through volunteering. I am thrilled to be part of Beyond the Ribbon, Incorporated. I look forward to serving the community while repaying Bobbie for all that she has done for me.