Stories of Hope
Find inspiration, wisdom, and strength in these stories and videos from breast cancer survivors. Hear how they coped with their diagnosis, what got them through, and how Breast Cancer Connections’ programs helped them along the way.
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Laurel, 36, stood at the front of her fourth grade classroom and told her students that she had breast cancer. “I don’t usually lose it in front of my kids, but I started crying,” Laurel remembers. “They have heard the word cancer and it’s very alarming for kids. One little boy, who is particularly helpful, brought me a box of tissues. The kids protested, ‘
But you’re too young to have cancer!‘ It was tough because they become very attached to you,” Laurel said.
She had a mastectomy during Spring Break and took the rest of the school year off to recover. “My students wrote sweet messages and cards. I think it was traumatic for them; they’re trying to make sense of the world,” Laurel said.
She found support at BCC’s Young Women’s Networking Group and met women who were also 36 and single. Young women with breast cancer face distinctive challenges. Some are forced to think about their future and whether or not they want to have children. “It’s hard not to be angry about losing a breast. Or angry about preserving eggs,” Laurel said. She started collecting stories and experiences from women in the group. “It’s helpful to hear other ways of coping. Collectively, we talked about anxieties, trouble with insomnia, and dating.”
Laurel received support from BCC’s Wig Buddy, and the Information Services Team which provided articles on chemotherapy side effects. Laurel also spoke with a BCC therapist about her infertility. Even though Laurel feels like she has an extended family at her school, she chose to preserve her eggs, a tough personal choice but one that was right for her.
“It’s so important to have a community that supports you during breast cancer. BCC is a great resource,” Laurel said.
When Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer at 32 her first thought was I need support. “I chose BCC over other organizations because BCC is specific to breast cancer,” Jennifer said. She found support at the Young Women’s Networking Group where she connected with other women facing similar issues including family planning, helping kids cope, and the workplace. There, she met Shirley and the two women developed a friendship.
Jennifer was going through treatments when Shirley had mostly completed them. “Shirley is always the most collected out of all of us, regardless of what she is going through. It’s really helpful to hear her stories,” Jennifer said. Shirley was diagnosed with breast cancer at 44 and began attending the Young Women’s Group after completing her chemotherapy. “I was always looking forward to coming to group, and I would always leave in a better mood, even if I was having a particularly stressful week. We’re there to provide strength for each other. It’s definitely a place of empowerment,” Shirley said.
Today, Jennifer and Shirley are both done with treatment and continue to attend the Young Women’s Group every now and then. “It’s wonderful to get through the tunnel and be an example for other patients,” Shirley said. Jennifer added, “Now that I’m post-treatment, this group is my therapy. Outside of group, I don’t talk about cancer unless it’s with another survivor. It’s great to have that connection with people, but also to give back as someone who has been through the process.”