"When I was diagnosed, I had just retired, and we had many plans for things to do. I found that continuing to work on those plans helped me to realize that this was just a bump in the road."
Monetta Lockey; diagnosed in 1997 at age 59; retired teacher; Texas
"Even after my diagnosis, I went on a Caribbean cruise as planned. I continued with my regular schedule as soon as possible, seeing as many friends and relatives as possible so that they would know I was alive and well."
Carol Hattler; diagnosed in 1999 at age 65; retired nurse; Virginia
"When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I took six months' leave of absence from my job. During this time, amid surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments, I discovered my creative side. I began to write poetry."
Mary Platt; diagnosed in 1998 at age 47; radiology supervisor; South Carolina
"One strange thing. I cried when I was first diagnosed and never cried after that. Now, I cry at so many touching things. I feel that it's okay and healthy to do this. But I don't cry for myself. Not ever."
Sheila Roper; diagnosed in 1995 at age 57; homemaker; New Hampshire
"When my doctor told me that I had breast cancer, I had a good cry. Then I decided that I wanted to live and would do everything necessary to achieve that goal."
Sandy Mark; diagnosed in 1998 at age 55; administrative assistant; Connecticut
"When I was diagnosed, I kept three bits of advice in mind. First, stay in control. Second, be informed. Third, keep a positive outlook. After my surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation, I add a fourth to the list. Be proud to be a survivor."
Helen Ann Kelly; diagnosed in 1996 at age 43; teacher; New Hampshire
"My husband says that he got most of his comfort from me, because he felt that I was in control both of my disease and of the day-to-day workings of our lives. That was my goal -- to keep everything at home operating as usual. The most contructive thing I did after hearing my diagnosis was to personally tell every friend, relative, neighbor, and co-worker of my diagnosis. As time passed, I kept everyone up to date with all the details, so that there would be no mystery or misunderstanding."
Deborah J.P. Schur; diagnosed in 1994 at age 43; sales rep; Massachusetts
"A breast cancer diagnosis can be terrifying, especially because there is a lot of waiting -- waiting for the mammogram results, waiting for the biopsy results, waiting to talk to the surgeon and plastic surgeon, and then waiting for the surgery. All this waiting can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety! Slow, desperate, and out of control were the feelings I was experiencing. It didn't take me long to realize that I had to take control or I would lose control. I believe the single most powerful thing I did to get through my breast cancer diagnosis was to concentrate on truly living and enjoying every day. For me this meant simply keeping very busy, doing things I enjoyed doing. The last thing I needed was time on my own. I took every opportunity I could to simply be with people -- anybody and everybody. By forcing myself to be out in the world, surrounded by others, I was forced to look beyond myself. And did I ever keep busy! My husband and I took long bike rides, we went to the mall, we went out to eat, we went away every weekend to the beach, to the mountains, anywhere, while we waited. It sounds so simple, but by keeping busy and active, I was reminding myself that life does go on. I did not feel ill; I felt good and healthy and alive. It was liberating to feel in control of my actions and my mind."
Julie Crandall; diagnosed in 1998 at age 31; stay-at-home mom; North Carolina
"Being diagnosed at twenty-four, married, and taking care of a two-year-old can be overwhelming for anyone. Not me! When I found out I had cancer, I did not think I was going to die. I was just going to face the facts and beat this to the end, and that I did."
Copyright © 2001 by Barbara Delinksy Charitable Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.
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