Sarah Gean glows with positivity and it’s why one would never be able to guess how fraught with difficulty her breast cancer journey has been. Her diagnosis came from her own self-awareness, after she noticed swelling and tenderness in her armpit. Her ultra sound and mammogram did not show her tumor. It would be a follow up MRI that finally revealed she had breast cancer. She got the news while in the car with her family, just before Christmas, on December 21, 2019.

She would go on to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction followed by five months of chemotherapy and radiation. While the diagnosis and subsequent treatment was grueling, it was made more complicated by COVID. Indeed, only a few months after active treatment concluded, the global shutdown began. It tested Sarah and her family even more. She notes that her support system was key. Friends created meal trains, her sisters moved in to help take care of her and her children, and teachers at her children’s school provided support in any way possible. The level of kindness she received blew her away: “it was a lot all at once. Having a support system allowed myself and my children to get through this.”

The pandemic did however, exacerbate certain issues and a few months into the global shutdown, Sarah and her husband separated. Facing an impending divorce, coupled with a breast cancer diagnosis, COVID and being a mother to young children is unfathomable to most, but Sarah’s outlook is astonishingly positive: “through this whole thing, I could only focus on what I could control. We can control how we look at things. I tried to take great care of myself so I could be there for my children.”

Sarah’s strength is admirable and she says she could not have done this journey without her incredible support system. It’s why today she feels good, like her energy is back and reflecting on her year, she has incredible insight saying, “Going through it, my ex-husband wasn’t supportive and my cancer intensified those issues. Hindsight is always 20/20 and my new life, I am good with it. It all happens for a reason. It’s been a couple of years of learning and lots of pain, but I always keep in my head that I have a choice of my thoughts everyday. I have a choice of how I want to frame things and for me, it’s putting my oxygen mask on myself to then make sure I can be there 100% for my children.”