Rebecca Read spent all of 2020 as an emergency room nurse during the height of the pandemic. It was an extremely stressful period of life, which is why she felt like, entering 2021, things were starting to return to normalcy. That feeling wouldn’t last long when, after receiving the COVID vaccine, she had an adverse reaction. The reaction prompted doctors to take a CAT scan of her chest, which revealed a lump. Further testing would result in a breast cancer diagnosis on November 30, 2021.
Of her diagnosis she says, “I don’t think my story would be the same right now if that had not happened. I was too young for a mammogram. It was really shocking and being in the medical field, I knew it wasn’t good.” Rebecca, though diagnosed with estrogen positive breast cancer, was treated as if the diagnosis was triple negative. It was a decision that included chemo, a double mastectomy and reconstruction. She had her third surgery this past August.
Her body responded well, but she credits her support system for helping her though that time: “I feel so fortunate I had such a great support system. I had so many great family and friends. My husband insisted on coming to every treatment with me. My friends threw me an amazing benefit and my daughter came home from college to surprise me. It really shows, when tragedy hits how loved you are and how many people care about you. I could talk for an hour about my family and friends.”
She also credits her work for helping her through treatment. Rebecca remained working nearly the entire time, a decision she says gave her purpose and the ability to give back, while taking her mind off her own treatment for hours at a time. Still, cancer is still very present: “emotionally I don’t feel over it. When you’re told you’re in remission, family and friends look to get back to your old life, but any ache or pain I second guess- is the cancer back? What does it mean?”
For this reason, she is so excited to join the Runway community. She notes that this journey can be isolating and she feels lucky for the chance to connect with other women who understand all that a cancer diagnosis brings. Of dancing on the runway she laughs saying, “my perspective on life has completely changed. I like to do things now that I would not have been comfortable doing prior to diagnosis.” We have a feeling she’ll light up the stage next week!