Beth Rouse overcame a melanoma diagnosis nearly a decade ago, but it left her with a real fear of another diagnosis since. Around her, she was seeing women diagnosed and even pass away from breast cancer and after a hospital stay due to COVID, she vowed to tend to all of her health testing to be proactive. In 2021, at 41 years old and a mother of five, Beth decided to get her first mammogram. Her dedication to the testing meant she had to stop breastfeeding and wait two months before the mammogram could occur. It would be a decision that would save her life.
After being asked to come in for more testing, “it was clear midway through the appointment that I was going to get a cancer diagnosis.” Indeed, the very next day Beth received the news she had breast cancer and two weeks later she received a double mastectomy. With no chemo or radiation needed, Beth decided to hold off on reconstruction surgery because the “idea of an implant and more surgery felt ehh to me.”
Continuing her healing journey for the next six months, 2021 dealt her another hardship when her marriage ended six months to the day of her double mastectomy: “in retrospect, I didn’t have much support during recovery. I think he was checked out.” It was a devastating blow to Beth, but she relied on family and friends to help her saying, “2021 chewed me up, spit me out and made me invincible. I walked a hard road, but the support of my family and friends was essential.”
That support helped her continue her breast cancer journey and she eventually received reconstructive surgery, which she feels immensely grateful for. On the other side of her divorce now, she “comes from a place of joy and hope” and says surviving what she has puts all else into perspective: “often when something happens, I’ll think well, at least it isn’t cancer or the end of my marriage.” Instead, she focuses on what she can control- eating well, sleeping lots and really leaning into self care, all with the support of her family and community: “it’s too huge a thing to carry on your own.”