Pink Link Stories: Joanne

February 13, 2017

Welcome to our “Pink Link Stories” blog series! These stories are from women who are a part of (or support) our virtual Pink Link community for breast cancer survivors (pinklink.org). Each quarter, we offer a new writing prompt — this quarter, we asked women to share their breast cancer story. We will publish the entries here (lightly edited for length and typos), and we’ll also be randomly selecting one entrant each quarter to receive a $50 gift card! If you want to submit your story right now, just send it (along with a photo, if you’d like) to desiree.parker@hereforthegirls.org. If you want to keep up with future writing prompts, sign up for our newsletter here.

While breast cancer survivors' stories may sound the same, they are as different as hair, hands, and foreheads! They are all unique and special. Each story is told from the standpoint of a medical course, yet the bravest course of treatment is the psychological one taken by survivors. They did not anticipate the anxiety or depressive symptoms that would unfold as chemotherapy, radiation, and mastectomy or lumpectomy lurked.

I am a survivor of breast cancer, her2+, some inflammatory, stage 3C. I am not alone and I am not unintelligent. I am not sedentary nor am I brave! Without the medical community, I would probably no longer have the life I live today.

Without movement, exercise, and a nutrition focus, I would be far less energetic five years in NED (No Evidence of Disease), in my late fifties! The integrative efforts through the Cancer Institute here in Virginia and the tenderness of their care in those early developmental stages of life in cancer treatment were sound. I researched and knew this journey was going to take some time. I chose, and shared my choices, and they were always well received.

I fought with family and a dear friend, Amber J., with whom I shared weekly conversations regarding anything. She was my confidante and I was her joy! Married with a stepson, we shared our faith and our joys in a heavenly savior who was available to us during these seasons of tremendous loss. I had lost a friend with whom I had been in a loving relationship, his death a suicide. Her losses were family, her mother, a fifth grade teacher in Los Angeles. Together we shared our foibles in the transition from West coast to East.

My cancer has not returned! I don't know why.

Do you know why your cancer has not returned? Immune support through relationships is as important to personal diet as exercise, nutrition, spiritual connections, and laughter, yes just plain fun! Joie de Vivre!

A support group called Beyond Boobs! (a support service of Here for the Girls) is a place inspiring to me. I worked as a volunteer with them for a year and a half in an alter ego personality, still my own, dressing up and dressing down to spread the message of hope in an educational forum. They like me! And I love them!

On I went from my developmental years as a thriving cancer adolescent to my young adult years (remember I am late fifties), and now into yoga! I love yoga! I wore this body into submission through yoga teacher training and the aches and pains of now stretching to a point where I felt I ought to stretch even more.

Gratitude, giving, and remembering those who have helped, supported, nourished, and prayed for me and my household.

As I move into survivorship as a clinician, I have more to learn and more to give in this fight for health, beauty, and yes, wealth. We all need to support ourselves through many avenues of thought and action. Survivorship is a process. Be kind to yourself! It takes time to relearn those moments we call Life. We may indeed use that anxiety or even depression for a greater good or purpose. It seems to require our thoughtful time.

-Joanne H.

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