"Don't spend time worrying about how you are going to die. Worry about how you are going to live today"

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Paying It Forward

I remember when I first was diagnosed with breast cancer, my mind was going to some pretty morbid places.  I just could not figure out how I would continue my life the same way after getting this diagnosis.  It seemed so completely overwhelming and impossible.  I guess really the whole process of treatment and the road ahead of me seemed unimaginable.  I was shaken to the core and devastated.

In one of the early days after my diagnosis, I met a woman named Kathy.  She reached out to me and was my "angel".  She saw me at the cancer center and knew by the look on my face what was going on as she had lived it exactly one year before me.  She has become a dear friend over the past year and has inspired me, given me hope and encouragement.  She has a wonderful spirit and zest for life.  She taught me that life can go on after a breast cancer diagnosis and has renewed my faith. 

Let's face it, family and friends are loving and supportive as you go through breast cancer, but no matter how hard they try, they just don't "get it".  Having the opportunity to share my feelings about going through breast cancer with someone that "gets it" made all the difference for me.

I knew after I spoke with Kathy a few times, I wanted to "pay it forward".  I wanted to find a way to help someone else dealing with this disgusting disease.  I didn't know how I would help someone, but I knew I had a strong desire to do it somehow.

I am overjoyed as I have found an opportunity to volunteer as a peer to peer counselor for breast cancer patients and to answer calls on a breast cancer hotline.  I had an interview yesterday and was asked to join the team of breast cancer counselors and supporters. I am truly excited about this amazing volunteer opportunity to be someone that "gets it" to someone going through the worst time of their life.  I can't wait to start "paying it forward" and making a difference!


  1. Hi, I appreciate the chance to read a blog as detailed as yours. I just called to share this with a coworker as her sister is concerned about losing her hair during chemo. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us!! Keep blogging...we will keep reading.

    I go for my tissue expander exchange very soon as I too had a bilateral mastectomy (October 2011). Do you have any blogs talking about your exchange surgery? I do not know what to expect. I have alot of pain on my left side as the expander feels almost folded on itself and has dropped and shifted alot. My doctor is unconcerned about it. I take tylenol like it is going out of style. They do not hear me sometimes, I think.

    I am in Michigan and I use the doctors in Grand Rapids (Lacks Cancer Center).

  2. Hi! Thanks for reading my ramblings and I am overjoyed to think that something I have shared is helping someone deal with this nightmare of cancer! I don't recall if I wrote much about my exchange surgery, but I had it on June 23rd so it would be in June and July that I may have written about it. My biggest advice regarding the TE's and implants is do physical therapy! I was assigned exercises and stretches to do daily after my bilateral mastectomy and that helped with the tightness. I still opted to work with a physical therapist and that helped tremendously. I believe all mastectomy patients should go to physical therapy. Those tissue expanders are stuffed under a muscle and the muscle needs attention so it will stretch and accomodate the tissue expanders. I can tell you the tightness goes away after you get your implants. No more tight feeling in my chest. Good luck! Thanks for reading!!!

  3. Hi. I am also an avid follower for the past year as my diagnosis was similar, 3/3/2011, stage 2 IDC and I'll be 46 in May. I had bilateral mastectomy, chemo & radiation. It's been a long road but I am also now ready to pay it forward. Thank you, sincerely, for sharing your experiences, insights and please keep them coming.
    I am really curious about your comment from Feb 1 about the peer to peer counseling/hotline. I am hoping to establish something like this for the cancer center that I went to in Edwards, CO, the Shaw Cancer Center. I'm looking for some best practices from other places who already have an established program. Would you be able to share more about it or send me a contact person who I could call or email? thank you in advance.
    - Lisa (Lmiddle44@yahoo.com)