Friday, 31 August 2007

Survival Spotlight: Lesa feels compelled to make a difference for others going through cancer

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Lesa, How did you find out you had breast cancer?

I found out during a routine annual mammography. Something didn't look right and I was urged to follow up with a surgeon for a biopsy. The official word came from him a week later.

What types of breast cancer treatments were recommended?

The first surgeon recommended surgery and then treatment consisting of chemo and possible radiation. We went for a second opinion, and the oncologist and surgeon both recommended chemo first, followed by surgery. While I was considered a candidate for lumpectomy, it was suggested that my risk factors would be lowered to single digits if I opted for mastectomy. We decided on mastectomy.

How did you research breast cancer and breast cancer treatments?

Through networking with trusted sources, in addition to a great deal of reading and online research.

How did you tell your family?

In person with those I am closest too, and by email to extended family and friends. The email part was the easiest - you can type even when you're choked up.

Are you involved with any breast cancer support groups, fundraisers or breast cancer organizations?

Yes - I've found wonderful support through Young Survivors Coalition and Back in the Swing. I will be volunteering for Back in the Swing this fall, walking in the Komen Race for the Cure this September in Chicago, and plan to attend the YSC conference in February 2008.

What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed with breast cancer?

Assemble a strong support team - close friends and family. Do everything you can to educate yourself on the subject to ensure that you will be able to make informed decisions. Seek out support groups and services available in your area. Try not to become discouraged - there are new treatment methods and options being developed every day.

What advice would your give the family members and friends of someone diagnosed with breast cancer?

Don't say, "if there is anything I can do".... do something, anything - sometimes a simple thing like washing someone's car or bringing dinner is so helpful.

As a breast cancer survivor, what thoughts do you have on surviving breast cancer and being a breast cancer survivor?

I feel compelled now to make this journey easier for another person diagnosed with breast cancer. My volunteer work is a result of that conviction, and I hope to do great things in support of survivorship.

Name other breast cancer related resources that you recommend:

http://www.youngsurvival.org/

http://www.backintheswing.org/Index.asp

http://www.komenkansascity.org/

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