"We women are so strong; let this be your chance to prove to the world and yourself"

Karen

“I will never forget the years 2004 to 2005, as they were marked by cancer diagnosis, tempered with the joy of becoming engaged and getting married. In July 2004, I became engaged to my now husband: a wonderful, charismatic, funny, intelligent, and (I must say) handsome Englishman.

“Not too long after announcing our engagement, my Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. In October 2004, just after turning 36, I was laid off from my job. Then shortly after that, in the same month, I found out I had Ductal Carcinoma In Situ: stage 0 breast cancer. I found the lump myself, even though DCIS does not usually produce ‘lumps.’

“Bad things certainly happened in threes that year. When I thought things couldn’t become worse than Dad having cancer and losing my job, they did when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I wound up having two unsuccessful lumpectomies in late 2004. Over the holidays, I had to come to terms with the inevitable decision of having a mastectomy. My fiancé and I discussed postponing our wedding or eloping until I was better. However, I wanted my Dad to walk me down the aisle, so those options were quickly dismissed.

“In February 2005, I had my right breast removed with immediate reconstruction using a Latissimus dorsi flap. I wound up having augmentation done as well—much to the delight of my fiancé!

“Despite all of the stress, I was very lucky. I was estrogen receptor negative, which meant I didn’t need to take tamoxifen, and I didn’t need chemo or radiation. My husband and I were able to keep our wedding date in May 2005 as well.

“I had our first child in January 2008, which I consider another stroke of luck, since I conceived without fertility treatment at the age of 38! I hope that by the time my daughter has to be screened for breast cancer, more advances will have been made in finding a cure.

“What have I learned and gained from all this? Certainly a different perspective on life, the ability to stay calm in stressful situations, to walk away from people who put out too much negative energy, and not to let things bother me as much as they used to. After all, life is too short!”

Karen