“I did not let cancer define me or take what I love from me”

“I did not let cancer define me or take what I love from me”

Portraits of Courage

Want some guidance from someone who has truly “walked the walk”? Meet Libbie, Valerie and Nicole. They are a mother/daughter team and are offering us their sage advice. They know more than just a little something about breast cancer, because they have had a very personal fight against this disease. Two of them were diagnosed with breast cancer and have undergone surgeries, chemo and radiation. And one was not going to let cancer eventually take control of her life based off of her strong hereditary chance to get this disease, so she underwent preventative surgeries. This is what they have to say:

Question: What would be your advice to someone who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer?

“I would tell people that you cannot ‘fix this’ yourself. Let others in. Trust in the Lord and count all your many blessings. I would also tell them to find the best doctors, ones that they feel comfortable with. Trust in them, but also be an active participant in the decisions that are being made and if you don’t feel right about something to speak up.”

“Keep your head up! It’s shocking and discouraging but it doesn’t’ mean ‘the end’. Know that it will be hard, but you can do it!”

“It is important to talk to the people you know because chances are there are several people that they know who are going through the same thing. I have been able to help several people find answers that they were seeking because I was willing to share what I was going through. Also, attitude is EVERYTHING! A good attitude can make this process so much easier and can help you heal MUCH faster!”

Question: What is something you are most proud of during your breast cancer journey?

“I am proud of the education I have learned of so many things. I have learned that there are so many good people who love and care about others, including me. These people are family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and even strangers. It has taught me to believe in the goodness of mankind. And reaffirmed that as I try to serve others that I do not think of my own problems and I am happier. Other personal lessons I have learned is to delegate, after years of being really bad at it. I’ve learned to relax and take time to appreciate everything and everyone around me, and to count and enjoy all my blessings. I gained the ability to accept the outcome of what I delegated and not let it drive me crazy when it didn’t get done the way I would have done it. I am proud of the peace I have found through this ordeal. To have faith in the Lord’s plan and time table…Come what may…and love it!”

“I am proud that I didn’t let this diagnoses ‘define’ me. I can remember shortly after my diagnoses my Mom and I went to the drugstore and bought a big pill container – you know the one that has M-F a.m. on one side and the p.m. on the other side. I looked at the container and I said, “I don’t want this. It says REALLY OLD or SICK and I am not old and I am not sick. I just have something I have to do – an obstacle to overcome.” This is how I felt and the mentality that I carried – I’m not sick, I just have some challenges to get through. Yes, there were times due to the chemo when I was very sick. I had to leave my home, my husband and my 2 children and let my Mom and Dad take care of me. But when that week of being sick was over, I went right back to life. I went home and I cooked dinner when I could, I spent time with my husband, and I took care of my kids. I did not let cancer define me or take what I love from me.”

“I wasn’t diagnosed with breast cancer, but I am very proud that I made the decision to be aggressive and take control of my life before breast cancer took control of it. My risk was pretty high so I made the decision to go ahead with the bi-lateral mastectomy even though my health wasn’t immediately at risk.”

These women are great examples of not just surviving, but living a full life with a positive attitude. Thank you for your gems of wisdom! 

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