My name is Beth, and this is my story. It all started on October 26, 2011–10 days after my 30th high school reunion. I went for my annual exam. Ten minutes into the visit, my gynecologist said, “You have a lump” (4 words). Thirty minutes later, I was having a mammogram (a month before my regularly scheduled one) and an ultrasound. An hour later, a wonderful technician took me into a room and put me on the phone with my doctor, who said, “We found something suspicious” (4 words), and to find a surgeon and schedule a biopsy ASAP. That wonderful technician never let go of my hand. She was the first of many angels I met on my journey. Six days later, I had a biopsy, and on November 4, 2011, my world turned upside down when I heard, “You have breast cancer” (4 words). I was 48 years old.
I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 2B. I had a lumpectomy a week before Thanksgiving. My margins were not clean, and I had node involvement. I chose to have a single mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, and I’ve never regretted that decision. The surgery was 4 days before Christmas–Happy Holidays to me! I had 8 rounds of chemo–4 Red Devils (adriamycin & cytoxan) followed by 4 Taxols. I lost all of my hair and started reconstruction during chemo. I finished treatment on May 4, 2012 –“You are a survivor” (4 words)–and had reconstructive surgery later that summer with the final surgery that fall. I have been taking Tamoxifen for 3-1/2 years and will continue for another 6-1/2 years. I still have neuropathy in my feet, but it is gone from my hands.
I have met the most incredible people on this journey I never signed up for. I am proud to be a survivor. I feel blessed every day. My sister survivors are the bravest women I’ve ever met. They give me hope and courage every day. I am approaching my 5 year survivorship milestone in November. Some days, it feels like yesterday, and other days, it feels like a lifetime ago. Some days, I scratch and claw my way through, and other days I just feel incredibly lucky. Year 5 is a biggie for those of us who face down the beast that is cancer. I plan to spend this year fighting for a cure, sharing my story with anyone who needs it, and living my life. Just living my life. Life is good. Life is so very good. My final 4 words would be, “Go live your life.”
In October of 2012, I participated in my first Race for the Cure in Albany and am proud to support the Northeastern New York affiliate of Susan G. Komen.
Please help me fund a cure. I never forget. Cancer has become part of my consciousness, part of my society. With every cancer death, my heart turns over. In addition to raising awareness and to reminding women the importance of mammograms, we must continue to fund the research that will eventually eradicate this monster. Together we can and will lift the veil on this horrendous disease. Together, we are stronger than cancer.
- 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime
- Every 2 minutes another woman is diagnosed
- In 2011, the year I was diagnosed, an estimated 230,480 women were diagnosed with breast cancer
- 1 in 20 American adults are cancer survivors
- In 2011, there were more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the US
- 85% of breast cancer occurs in women with no family history
- 108 American women die of breast cancer every day
- 2.8 million women are living with breast cancer in the U.S.
- 83% of women survive breast cancer according to recent 5-year survival statistics
I am proud to be a survivor and I am proud to support Komen of Northeastern New York. Thank you for your support.