Member Stories: Meet Charlene

April 1, 2022

The theme of A Calendar to Live By 2022 is Perseverance. All 12 women who grace its pages have honest, inspiring stories of perseverance to share with readers -- as well as words of advice for other young women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Read on to get to know more about Ms. April 2022.

Ms. February 2010   |   Diagnosed at 44 (2001), re-diagnosed at 59

So much has changed for Charlene since her first diagnosis and her later re-diagnosis with metastatic breast cancer. She is single, and she’s retired. More than that, her focus has shifted to what she cherishes most at this time in her life. “I used to live to work. Now I live to live! I’ve learned that life is special, and it’s time to forget about the small stuff.” Her cancer journey has taught her what is small stuff versus what’s important. One visible example of that change is evident in photos of her before diagnosis compared to now: her hair. She’d always taken pride in her long, thick tresses. “When you get cancer, it’s like you lose control. But I knew I had control over this one thing – my hair. One day at lunch, I went to get it cut, and that was that. I was free from it.” She has kept it short ever since.

Charlene now spends her time with loved ones, and she spends hours fishing and enjoying the peace of nature. Perseverance is an integral part of her outlook on life, especially since her metastatic diagnosis. “I keep on keeping on, that’s what I do. It’s as simple as that.”

Charlene has this advice for survivors: Seek out somebody who has been there. I didn’t get good advice. You need someone who is there for you to help show you how to go forward. I would also tell people that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to find that light for you. Find somebody and look for the light.

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