Here I Stand with You: 10 Years After Cancer

‘Cancerversary’ is a strange concept. We each decide the date we want to remember, or forget. For me, my cancerversary is the day I was told I had breast cancer: August 24, 2010.

Isn’t it amazing how you can remember everything from a specific day in your past but can’t remember what you did last week? Well, August 24, 2010, was one of those days that will forever be ingrained in my mind. It started with a phone call from a lab and some random lady telling me I had breast cancer.

Yes, It Happened That Way

Not sure what to do with myself after receiving this news, I left my apartment and spent a few hours alone in midtown Manhattan, practicing saying it out loud to myself “I have breast cancer.”

From there, I met my husband outside of his office and told him the news. The look on his face will never leave me:  it was fear and strength combined. I called my parents, and the scream my mother made will haunt me forever. That night I began telling friends and family and searching for information on how to deal with the situation. Within 24 hours of the phone call from that random lab lady, I heard the name ‘YSC’ for the first time.

“I am not going to sugar coat it. There have been some really dark days over the past 10 years. Facing the brutality of this horrific disease is not easy.”

Within a few days, I walked into a YSC Face2Face meeting. I didn’t know that I would meet my future best friends that night. At that meeting I was given a YSC Newly Diagnosed Navigator which felt like someone had just handed me the secret answers I was searching for. The ladies in that meeting told me that “if you don’t like your doctor just get another one,” and I found the energy of being my own best health advocate intoxicating.

Nine months later, I was hired by the YSC Board of Directors to become YSC’s 3rd Chief Executive Officer. I was honored and proud to be selected to lead an organization where I was also a constituent. I knew exactly the challenges confronting young adults facing breast cancer everyday. I started immediately, at the same time battling through the side effects of my own surgeries and treatments.

YSC Back in the Day

As I reflect back on my early days at YSC, I am proud of the work that we all did to grow and expand this wonderful organization. In those early years of my tenure, I pushed for YSC to do everything it could to support breast cancer co-survivors and ensure that the person supporting the survivor is also supported and given permission to take care of themselves. My husband and my father were amazing co-survivors to my mother and me during our breast cancer journeys in 2010; however, the lack of public and social acknowledgement of their needs for support frustrated me. I hope because of the steps YSC has taken, the future for a husband, wife, sister, or friend supporting someone like me will never be lonely, but rather they will make lifelong friends and feel a part of the YSC family.

“To all of you who recently heard the words ‘you have breast cancer’ I am sorry. The only truly positive thing I have to say is that you and your co-survivor are now part of YSC.”

I am not going to sugar coat it. There have been some really dark days over the past 10 years. Facing the brutality of this horrific disease is not easy. I have lost many friends that I have loved. I have suffered and battled with my own mental health. My body has been disfigured and changed forever. I live in fear every day that I will feel another lump.

Love and Support to Celebrate Every Year

Yet I have met amazing people through YSC that have changed my life for the better. I have witnessed people who want to help and donate to YSC, always reminding me that humans are truly good. I have ridden TEN Tour de Pink bike rides and have become a cyclist because of it — the last thing I ever thought would happen. And I learned that birthdays are meant to be celebrated and cherished because it is awesome to become a year older!

To all of you who recently heard the words “you have breast cancer” I am sorry. The only truly positive thing I have to say is that you and your co-survivor are now part of YSC — and this amazing, powerful community promises to love you, support you and stand by you long beyond your own 10-year cancerversary.

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