Meet the Models, New England: Sarah Martarano

Sarah Martarano was 43 when she decided to do some self care and schedule all of her routine doctors appointments. During her appointment with her PCP, a lump was found and she was immediately referred to a breast center. She was immediately diagnosed with breast cancer and months of grueling treatment ensued.

Indeed, while the original plan was to shrink the tumor through chemo for a lumpectomy, her treatment took a less linear path when she was found to be allergic to steroids and that the chemo could not be completed because of its stress on her immune system. When the lumpectomy did not result in clear margins, Sarah followed up with a mastectomy.

The strain of treatment was evident, but more so because she had a 4 and 5 year old at home. Calling her husband an “amazing rock,” she was also blown away at how their new community stepped in to help feed their family  and keep life normal for the children. Indeed, though so young, Sarah is quick to note how traumatic the experience was for the children: “people don’t always understand the trauma of it all and even though they were little, my daughter still holds trauma around it 5 years later.”

While treatment is over, the realities of cancer still exist: “there is still that worry and dread that drags behind you after a breast cancer diagnosis.” Indeed, while the first nine months post treatment were filled with highs thanks to that “I am alive, I made it!” feeling, the effects of the medications still affect Sarah’s daily life: “I felt like I was pretty healthy previous to diagnosis and ever since have not been the same thanks to medications and their side effects. You have this hitting a rock bottom stage when starting to feel the aches and pains of meds and you pause and think ‘I was feeling good? I was moving forward?’ but then real struggles started to kick in about 9 months after treatment.”

Amongst all of these moving parts, Sarah is still able to pull positives from the experience. She notes she is much more intentional about what she wants from life and far less fearful of things. She is also immensely grateful for the friends, family and community around her. Indeed, to anyone newly diagnosed she stresses to “don’t rush into decisions. Make sure you have a doctor and team you are comfortable with.”