Gwendolyn Doe's story of survival

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2010. I had been experiencing right nipple discharge and made an appointment to see my doctor. He ordered a series of tests, including an ultrasound and a cone biopsy. The results concluded that it was cancer. Upon hearing the news I can remember that I was calm at first, and then I just started to cry.

After I broke the news to family and friends, my adult children helped me with cooking and cleaning, and one of my daughters went with me to doctor’s appointments. My friends always kept me in high sprits. They knew how difficult this ordeal was for me.

My biggest supporters were my grandchildren. One of my grandsons kept saying,
“let me see it, grandma.” It brought a bit of cheer and laughter and made me want to fight all the harder. Everyone kept my spirits up and I kept busy and worked. I also surrounded myself with spiritually filled people. I laughed a lot which is crucial.

My treatment was at the Bienes Comprehensive Cancer Center at Holy Cross Hospital. Everyone that works there is wonderful. They made sure I was comfortable and understood my treatment and any options. I really felt like they cared about me as a person, not just as another cancer patient.

During my battle, I prayed a lot and depended on God for strength and healing. I read the Bible and asked for prayers and support. One man at work lifted my sprits by telling me that I was a “strong woman.” During that time, I also attended the Breast Cancer Support Group at the cancer center, and the women there helped me a lot.

I would tell anyone recently diagnosed with breast cancer to pray and believe. If surgery is recommended, have it done and go through the treatment. I would also tell them to stay busy. Probably the most important lesson I learned is the importance of good nutrition and exercise. Also, if you can, interact with an oncology social worker and participate in support groups.

To be honest, it took me a year to overcome feeling like a victim. It was a difficult time dealing with losing a part of my body (partial breast), but I learned to love myself as I am. I got over the hurt and the worry and concentrated on living. The support group really made a difference in my perspective.

Having gone through this experience, I know now is the time to get on with my life and I’m doing it more assertively. I am more pro-active and no longer sit back and let things happen to me. I definitely have more self-confidence. My plans are to travel and visit family members, and I’ve been involved with the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Relay for Life programs.


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