As I was about to begin the months of treatments ahead, my pharmacist gave me some wise advice. He told me one of the most important things to remember in the months ahead was what was between my shoulders – in other words, my thoughts and attitude would play a big role in the whole process. I’ve never forgotten it all these years later. It was a power reminder to focus on wellness, maintain a positive attitude and to be grateful for each day. It has served me well to this day! – Melanie M., 57 years. Diagnosed in late 2005.

I went to get my head shaved after my first chemo treatment, as my doctors had all said that my hair would fall out due to my treatment and my scalp would be sensitive. I felt very anxious about losing my hair and how this would impact my looks, my self-esteem… I had my husband take our two boys, aged 5 and 7, out for the day so that I could grieve the loss of my hair privately before they saw me. When my family came home, my boys both stared at me with open mouths and I felt the tears come to my eyes. My children ran to me and threw their little arms around me and my six year old whispered, “It’s okay mommy. You look beautiful…you don’t look good, but you still look beautiful.” – Cynthia T., 43, Stage 2, Grade 3, Triple Negative BC, almost 2 years out.

I was diagnosed in 2002, at 35 years old, with stage 3B node positive ER/PR +, HER2+ breast cancer of the left breast.Seven years later a CAT scan revealed a mass in my liver. After biopsies were completed I was told that I had stage 4, metastatic breast cancer that had spread to my liver. I have decided that even though my disease is now considered incurable, I will try to live with hope and grace every day. I have surrounded myself with love and support and feel so grateful to share that with others. I find great comfort in keeping myself informed, doing what I can to optimize my well being and enjoy every day I can with my friends and family. Five years after the spread of my Breast Cancer I am not just surviving, I am thriving.  Sharon F.

There is no perfect fit or solution that works for everyone. Be open and understanding that each of us has a different set of situations that we are working with. Unfortunately the answers to our questions will be varied. We are all unique and should celebrate that.   Heidi

I’m leaving this world with a lot less parts than I came in with. Two boobs, 26 lymph nodes, 1 cervix, 1 uterus, 2 Fallopian tubes and 2 ovaries.” This is something I say often when discussing all the surgeries I’ve undergone. I still laugh when saying it and it also makes light of a rather serious and potentially uncomfortable (for most) situation. – Aimee, Celebrating LUCKY 13 years post diagnosis, Turning 43 this year

I’m a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason.” I still don’t know why I got cancer at 29 with no family history but I do know throughout this journey I have met some amazing people who have shaped who I have become today.”

Seek peer support.” I was the type of person that felt I could handle anything that was thrown at me. When diagnosed and someone suggested this to me, I gave them the old “pssshhhhh.” But I soon realized I was very alone and needed, no I craved information and the ability to relate to someone who has or was going through the same thing. Best thing I ever did.

Being very self conscious from losing my hair, my 4 year old snuggled up to me and pet my bald head. She said, “I love how soft your head is Mommy.” For me losing my hair was negative, but to a child – they find seem to find something positive.

I tattooed cool designs over every single scar and my self-consciousness is GONE.

My husband wanted to know much more information than I did, I could only handle one day at a time…and you know what? That was ok.

Reconstruction really did complete my journey, it brought closure I didn’t know that I needed.

I’m not in denial about the cancer; I’m just processing.

I chose a wig to be the hair I always wanted; curly instead of pin-straight.

Don’t should yourself – if you need to re-adjust your ‘normal schedule’ – DO IT!

Figuring out what my life looked like post-cancer, took longer than the treatment itself!

No two cancers and no two people are alike. I have learned not to compare myself to others. My journey is unique.

I have learned to let go of the “what if’s”, as in “what if I had exercised more?” or  “what if I had been a vegetarian?”. I can’t change the past, I have to deal with the future and live in the present.

I try to make chemotherapy days as positive as possible. I treat myself to a specialty coffee or a fancy soup on chemo days. That gives me something to look forward to on chemo days, and increases my fluid intake!

I have to keep away from negative websites, they bring me down. I only go to vetted cancer information sites, such as those vetted by Willow.

I’ve learned to control my negative thoughts and worries…to a certain extent. I try to place them in a separate “box” in my mind and only deal with them when appropriate.

If you don’t share nagging fears with someone, they can take over your mind and become a paralyzing agent.

After a double mastectomy and lymphedema, I am still a sexual person with feelings and desires. Resuming  sexual activities was hard at first. I think I needed to overcome my fears more so than my partner.

Whenever I see my oncologist I take a list of questions and concerns with me. And I usually take a scribe with me to write down her answers.