Age 45, diagnosed at 41
No family history, No known genetic mutation
Virginia first read that she had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) on a patient portal and 20 minutes later learned from her doctor by phone that DCIS was Stage 0 breast cancer. Three weeks earlier, she’d had her first annual screening mammogram. She was asked to return for additional images and then again for a biopsy. Until her doctor’s confirmation, she had never considered breast cancer to be a possibility. After two lumpectomies without clear margins, Virginia had a mastectomy and chose to remove the unaffected breast too. She later had reconstruction. An early education professional, wife, and mother to a pre-teen daughter, Virginia said she always struggled to balance family and work commitments, often ignoring her own needs. “Cancer made me realize how important I am in my own life! If I am not making myself a priority, I can’t be the best version of myself.” Virginia considers herself confident, valiant, and independent, like Beauty. The Beast she faces are her own feelings of guilt and inadequacy, especially from the emotional and physical scars of cancer. She has learned that when she offers grace and compassion to her demanding host, herself, she discovers the value and beauty within.