I’m 51 years old, married to Tom, no kids, but 2 rescue Coonhounds that I spoil like children. I lived in Cambridge for 22 years before moving to Newburyport, MA 6.5 years ago. My first diagnosis created a serious priority shift for me and I decided to retire from a very demanding career as a biotech executive to focus on things more meaningful to me than my career and lead a life more oriented in service: Chair of Newburyport Tree Commission, served on Charter Commission, Big Sister through Family Services of Merrimack Valley, volunteer at several local organizations (NAA, Jeanne Geiger, ONT to name a few), volunteer at several local nursing homes and feed the animals at Spencer Pierce Little Farm. It’s a great way to live.
I’ve had breast cancer 2 times. Luckily, DCIF Stage 0 both times. I was diagnosed by routine mammograms (GET YOUR MAMMOS!) both times. I was BRCA mutation tested the first time, since my paternal grandmother had breast cancer “young” (we couldn’t recall her age but pre-menopausal) and was mutation negative.
The first time I was diagnosed was 25 Feb 2014 (age 44): Lumpectomy in March, Daily radiation Apr – June followed by low-grade chemo (Tamoxifen) for 5 years. Diagnosis, surgery and radiation was all done at MGH.
The second time I was diagnosed was 20 Mar 2017: Double mastectomy with reconstruction April, again at MGH.
I’ve been good ever since. It sounds super cliche but my diagnosis was the best thing that ever happened to me. It forced me to take stock of what was really important to me and learn to count my blessings. It took some time for all of it to sink in, but it changed my life radically and all for the better. All the things that I used to “talk” about doing, I started actually doing. I truly think I would still be working and living in the city if I hadn’t been diagnosed. It’s almost embarrassing that it took something so dire to open my eyes.