Occupation: Mom, Meditation Cushion Rep for A Place To Breathe
Meditation and Yoga Studio, Yoga teacher at Adya Yoga and Ayurveda
Children: Three wonderful boys, Andrew (17), Henry (15), William (12)
Treatment Center: St. Mary’s
How was it Found: Annual Mammogram
Do you have a family history of breast cancer?
There was no history of breast cancer in my immediate family. I did learn that a maternal uncle had breast cancer.
As a woman what gives you strength?
Belief in God and the Divine in each of us – knowing that we are loved unconditionally. Courage resulting from opening up to my own vulnerability and connecting authentically with others. SUPPORT and prayers from loving community near and far – loved ones, family, friends old and new, “sisterhood”
I’ve been a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, colleague in my former Corporate days, M.B.A., GE FMP graduate, AMI Montessori Adolescent Program graduate, etc. These past sixteen months have been the most challenging yet and now, I’m a SURVIVOR!
I was shocked to learn of my diagnosis of breast cancer as a healthy woman. My risks were low from the standpoint of healthy living (non-smoker, healthy eater, healthy weight…). I did have a very large amount of stress over a prolonged period of time. I also did not have a history of which I was aware. Simply unexpected!
I had a baseline mammogram early (in my 30’s). Through annual mammograms starting at 40, I did learn that I had dense breast tissue. I did NOT notice any lumps or bumps, however, I did begin to notice a change in the appearance of one breast. I was reluctant to get my annual mammogram the year I was diagnosed because I thought I’d skip a year believing everything was going to be fine and because time and money were tight. I didn’t want one more thing to do or stress over. I listened to that nagging inner guidance and had the MRI and am quite happy I did. It got the ball rolling. I then went through a couple weeks of nail biting tests and waiting for phone calls hoping for false positives. It was the longest couple of weeks of my life. I am lucky, I was diagnosed at an early stage. I was faced with a HUGE decision. Nothing could have prepared me for this decision or the outcome of my choice. I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy because no additional treatments (i.e. radiation, Tamoxifen) were recommended with this plan of action. I felt it was the best course of action for me and my family. I couldn’t think of much except wanting to be around for my boys. Looking back, I would make the same decision.
I elected to have treatment with Bon Secours St. Mary’s because of my past experiences there when I delivered my three sweet baby boys. The nurses and staff at Bon Secours provided me with excellent care. The nurses were nothing short of awesome. My journey had it’s complications with infections which prolonged the healing, recovery, and reconstruction process. I am forever grateful for my talented and compassionate health care team at St. Mary’s, Bon Secours Virginia Breast Center (Dr. Pellicane & staff), and Richmond Plastic Surgeons (Dr. Wornom & staff), and many others who cared for me and continue to care for me through it all. I adore you all!
I had received this diagnosis during a particularly challenging time in my personal life and I was fortunate to have family, friends, and “sisters” to stand beside me and provide loving support and prayers along the way. It would have been a very lonely journey without them and I know I would not have faired as well during this crazy time or had as much fun…really! There are many “Golden Nuggets”, one of which is in beautiful connection to others. This experience has brought me closer to those I love dearly.
Surviving and thriving through and after breast cancer has strengthened my desire to LIVE truly in the beauty of each moment, to be present, and to love and accept myself and others. I am happy to be ALIVE with a chance to connect with people and circumstances simply and in meaningful ways. I had dabbled in meditation prior to my diagnosis. It turned out to be the one thing I could do without fail during this time…sometimes with a smile and other times with tears streaming and with breath hard to catch. Meditation practice and praying helped me bring more peace and calm to challenges of daily living (with three teenage boys – love them dearly) and continues to be a saving grace.
This time has also been a journey of self re-discovery. I have learned that I am eclectic with many interests including and not limited to yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, outdoor activities and adventures, varied sports, hula hooping, reading, theatre going, listening to music, and watching my kids play sports... I also love sharing in a good belly laugh with my kids, family, and friends. I’ve learned that I need to nurture and care for myself daily in ways that fill my own soul and I never realized how difficult it would be to turn inward. I encourage all women to nurture themselves and their soul’s desires, find something that brings a smile and maybe even some laughter to each day, and to reach out in connection with others. Life is GOOD.
I am incredibly honored to be a Celebration Of Life dancer and am so thankful to Susan for creating this magical event. I am looking forward to fulfilling one of my hearts desires in this unique dancing opportunity and to developing new friendships and connections along the way as part of this wonderful and important event to raise awareness of breast cancer and fund local breast cancer research and support.
Thank you! I hope that you all will join in helping Pink Tie Gala support breast care awareness and research and care for those experiencing it. Come out and celebrate life at the Pink Tie Gala! It’s a wonderful opportunity to have some fun and dance the night away for a great cause! October 22, 2016
One person CAN make a difference......be that person