Lena: 52, diagnosed at 50, no family history, no known genetic mutation.
DETERMINED. Our theme for A Calendar to Live By 2021, INSPIRED, shares the word that resonates most with each of our calendar ambassadors and reflects the woman she has become since her cancer journey began. Lena's word is DETERMINED. Here is her story.
Lena felt a lump in her breast but assumed it was a cyst caused by stress, including a recent job loss. While on a visit out-of-state months later, she decided to have it checked out, just to be safe. A mammogram and ultrasound followed by a biopsy led to a diagnosis of stage 2, triple negative breast cancer. Lena was in full denial mode at first, too busy with the craziness of life to believe what she was hearing. A lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation followed. During treatment, she found Here for the Girls. “I realized I should have been there all along,” she says. “I now had those who could completely understand and empathize with anything I was going through.” Her cancer journey has been tough – at times it has been downright depressing – but Lena has pushed forward. The word she carries with her after her journey is determined. “I was determined to get through the diagnosis, treatment, and to the other side of life. I was determined to be normal again and then, with the support of my H4TG group, I determined that it was okay for it not to be normal again. Now, I’m just determined to live joyfully, gratefully, and love others as much as possible.”
MORE TO ADD: "Young women have so many different challenges, like careers and (many times) young families. Their fears are different. Sometimes their closest caregivers cannot understand the many emotions tied to breast cancer. Having a support group can help them navigate their feelings, bounce questions off each other, and even laugh. The sooner a woman gets involved, the sooner she will not walk alone. She is gaining a whole different type of family, sisterhood, bonus moms, friendships, and a wealth of knowledge and perspective."