While taking a shower, I discovered a lump in my breast. I was 36 years old and this was in 1995, when mammograms weren’t recommended for women under 50. Fortunately, I worked in the radiology field in a very forward-thinking facility. I already had an appointment scheduled with my gynecologist so I explained the situation. He agreed to give me a prescription for a mammogram and I had one that day.
The lump that I found in the shower turned out to be a harmless cyst. But, it called attention to the breast and there were very small areas of irregular calcifications in another part of my breast. That was the beginning of my breast cancer journey. I got a second opinion and chose to have a mastectomy followed by immediate reconstruction. After the surgery my treatment was complete. I did not have chemotherapy.
I then began my relationship with the PBCC. I felt strongly then and now that I was diagnosed at an early stage and at a young age for a reason. I felt it was my mission to share my story and share my experience with others.
I’m not the only breast cancer survivor. Every member of my family is a survivor of breast cancer. They are the people who helped me the most, except for my medical team. Every time I talk with a woman who is newly diagnosed, the first thing I tell her is “You are a survivor. You become a survivor the day you are diagnosed. You have so much power within yourself to fight this disease. You just have to know that it’s there within you.”
Breast cancer has actually been a positive in my life. It has taken me places for speaking engagements and women’s health opportunities that I never would have imagined.
Sandy Cray serves on the PBCC Board of Directors as Lehigh Valley Vice President. She represents the PBCC frequently on exhibit committees, as conference workshop moderator, and public speaker. She has talked with countless newly-diagnosed women over the years, encouraging and supporting them through their own journeys. Sandy continues to work in the medical field. She and her husband Bill have a 15 year-old daughter Rachel who is a frequent volunteer at the PBCC Annual Conference.