In November 2006, I went for my regular mammogram and was diagnosed with breast cancer a few days after Christmas. There had been some gray areas they wanted a better look at and I went for a needle biopsy. I was thankful that the cancer was considered stage 1 but still I had some decisions to make. I told my daughter and my family and got through the holidays with a numb feeling. This was my body and I needed time to think, so I went to another doctor for a second opinion about treatment options.
I started changing my diet and exercising to build my strength for such a major surgery. I had a mastectomy and immediate reconstruction with a Tram flap. I spent a week in the hospital and a week at home and then I went back to work, first for half-days and within a few weeks back to full time.
When I look in the mirror I don’t look much different, and I encourage other women to consider reconstruction too. I tell women to have courage and trust your doctors and everything is possible. You can do it.
I was honored to be asked to represent Dauphin County in the PBCC’s traveling photo exhibit. I treasure that opportunity. It has opened many other doors for me. Soon I will start a new ministry called Polished Women of Faith, connecting women to mind, body, and soul. I write poetry to express myself. I’m good at life coaching and am preparing to take a course to learn more about that. My advice to other women diagnosed with breast cancer is to have faith, talk to God, and know that things come into your life for a reason. Focusing on helping and loving people makes the world a better place for them and for you.
The PBCC’s traveling photo exhibit 67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania will be at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg May 7th through May 17th. This special event marks the PBCC’s 20th anniversary year.