“I knew I had to make my diagnosis worthwhile.”
Courtesy Nicole Philips and Susan G. Komen “When I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer, I chose not to hide behind my cancer. Educating others about the disease made my diagnosis feel purposeful. I became a habitual over-sharer on my blog, chronicling the process of the diagnosis, mastectomy, and reconstruction. Looking back, I realize my best days were the ones when I felt the worst. When I was angry, anxious or sad, I would go out and do an act of kindness for someone else. It was my own personal treatment plan—getting my mind off myself and focusing instead on the needs of others. I wear the title ‘survivor’ proudly because I walked through something difficult and came out stronger, filled with confidence and bravery. ” —Nicole J Phillips
“I’m glad I decided to show up for my life—because it’s really good now.”
Courtesy Mark Weiss Photography “Like many women, I discovered my lump by accident. I was dozing off to sleep one night and, as I rolled onto my side to get in a comfortable position, my arm grazed up against my right breast. That’s when I first felt the pea-sized lump. Because I had small, dense breasts, the lump didn’t show up on two mammograms. I then had a sonogram and biopsy that revealed the worst news a woman can hear: I had stage 1, non-invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer (the best case scenario of a worst-case situation). That began the rollercoaster ride that would become my life for the next two and a half years. In total, I had five surgeries, which eventually included a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Halfway through my chemotherapy, I had this nagging question that kept lingering in the back of my mind: ‘Now that you have a second chance at life, what are you doing to do with it?’ A week later, I quit my unfulfilling job, dumped my commitment-phobic boyfriend of nine years and started to go after my dreams. Still, even though my cancer was caught early, surgery and treatment are emotionally and physically depleting. It was only because I had soldiers in the trenches with me—my amazing medical team and my girl gang—that I was able to emerge a warrior.” —Caitlin Kiernan
There’s a lot of misinformation about cancer out there—check out the 50 myths about cancer that need to go away.
“The fear in my family’s eyes drove me to survive.”
Courtesy Laurie Pezzano “I was 37 years old when I found a lump in my breast. It was a week filled with immense fear and challenges. When the doctor confirmed that I did, in fact, have breast cancer, I instantly went into survival mode. I was a mother, a wife, and a business owner. I couldn’t let cancer take any of those things away from me. When I told my family, the fear in their eyes showed me that I had to fight to survive. I had eight surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation and was deemed cancer-free. It was not easy—and I worked throughout the entire process—but I never gave up and I always tried to stay positive through it all. I live in pain every day from all the surgeries and lymphedema, but I’m happy I’m alive. Dealing with the pain is a small price to pay to have my family. Today I’m three years cancer-free and extremely blessed.” —Laurie Pezzano