Last September, Christine Leach lost her husband after his 22 month battle with glioblastoma. It was a tragedy that thrust her, and her two children, into unimaginable grief. She was due for her mammogram in December 2021 and she notes, “I wanted to skip it because I was in the middle of grieving.” Nonetheless, she checked the appointment off the list, but two weeks later she received a call from doctors that they needed her to come in for more testing. On December 23, 2021, Christine faced the unimaginable, once again, when she was diagnosed with highly invasive, stage 2B triple negative breast cancer. This past January she began chemotherapy and on May 10th received a double mastectomy.

Having just finished chemotherapy, Christine reflects on the intensity the treatment took on her body. She lost her hair, endured skin changes and suffers from neuropathy, but in the end her scans show that her tumor went from 4 centimeters to 4 millimeters. It’s a small bright spot in an otherwise very trying two years.

Despite all Christine has faced in the past few years, she exudes an aura of calm understanding. When asked how she has continued to fight through the myriad of emotions from her grief and subsequent diagnosis, she says, “a marathon runner is not taken out by heartbreak hill, they’re taken out by the pebble in their shoe. When a big diagnosis happens, you rally, but it’s the smaller things that trip you up, so I need to focus on being in a place of peace, calm and emotionally sober. That’s what my support network is for.” Indeed, she credits her large extended family and her two children, ages 25 and 26, for being there when she needs them most. On some days that means someone to grocery shop and on others it means keeping her company. In all, Christine says the key to keeping her “emotionally sober” is to just take it all one day at a time: “It’s like the headlights on a car. You can only see so much, so that’s what you need to focus on until the path continues to light up and reveal more.”