When I found the lump under my left armpit last summer, I thought it was a reaction to the new deodorant I had switched to. I went to California for the summer but when I came back the lump was still bothering me. I own Milan Café in Allentown and I mentioned the problem to one of my long-time customers whose husband is a doctor. She encouraged me to get it checked so I went to see her husband, Dr. Peter Isaacs. He removed a lump that was the size of a golf ball and ordered further testing. Testing showed that it was cancer and he sent me to see an oncologist.
When you first meet with an oncologist you think “why is this happening to me?” It’s a shock. But once you accept what you have you can move forward and the process becomes easier. I started chemo treatment in February, eight cycles for 16 weeks. It’s important to listen to your body, not what everyone else tells you about chemo. Everyone is different. For me, I was tired and I slept a lot. And I ate fruits and vegetables to help me gain strength like eggplant, kale, clams, pears and squash. Eat the food that will help you rise above the condition you’re in.
I love having my own business and having control over my career. For many years I was in management in retail and did some financial planning too but with my own business I can control my destiny. With breast cancer I think it’s the same thing … you can control how you handle the process.
My husband Darrin and I have two boys, Jacob who just graduated high school and is going to Penn State to study electrical engineering, and Seth who is a junior in high school. Seth wants to be a doctor and will be in the Emerging Health program at Penn State.
I always tell other women you’re going to get through this. It’s only a temporary situation. I feel lucky to be in the United States where we have so many wonderful specialists and all the latest medicines and options. And most importantly, make the decision that is right for you, and always check if something is bothering you. Don’t put it off.