Our “A Calendar to Live By” features survivors we serve through Here for the Girls programs and their inspiring, uplifting stories about their cancer journey. Get to know this month’s model, Michelle!
49, diagnosed at 43
1st degree family history; no known genetic mutation
An itch led Michelle to find the lump in her left breast, but there was a five-week delay before this environmental planner, mother of three, and wife could be seen for testing. Mammography revealed nothing; however, ultrasound showed a 5.1 cm mass that a biopsy confirmed as malignant. Treatment for her stage 3A Her2+ breast cancer included a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, chemotherapy, and radiation. During that time, Michelle not only experienced a rare, life-threating reaction, but also her mother, a breast cancer survivor, died of colon cancer. Michelle realized then how much she wanted to live. She says, “Like Sleeping Beauty, I was bestowed many gifts by the good fairies, but I was sleeping through life. I was a busy working mom who wasn’t appreciating my blessings. I put off so many things for later instead of living now; never considering that we aren’t promised a tomorrow. Cancer was both a blessing and a curse as I awakened from my ‘sleep’ and learned to be present and live more fully and gratefully. I no longer put off those trips or activities with family and friends. My fairy tale now is about enjoying the little moments and blessings that life has bestowed upon me.”