Joyce’s Story

My story stretches back a bit. Ten years ago, I worked for a company and I was the head of their marketing department. That year the Race for the Cure committee co-chairs were volunteers from the company I worked at. They approached me and said, “Would you be open to doing the marketing for Komen this year since we’re chairing the race?” We won national awards that year for Komen, and I raced with the company on their team. The February after, the company had a luncheon. One of the things they did was recognize the person on the company team who raised the most money for Komen. I didn’t know it was me, but it was. They called me up to give me this pretty pink pen, but it was the day after my first chemo treatment. So here I won for being the biggest fundraiser for something that I had no idea was going to be such a big part of my life beyond just being at a race.

The July before I was diagnosed, I found the lump. They came back and said it was just a cyst, not to worry. By December, it was growing. We were concerned, so I went back and got tested again. They had misdiagnosed it the first time.

When you get diagnosed with breast cancer, you don’t know a lot. All you know is that you have it. You don’t know what that really means. You don’t know if you’ll live or die. All you know is that you have it. It’s like, “You tell me what’s going to get rid of this and keep it from coming back. I’ll do all of the things that are on the list.” And that’s what I did.

I was cancer-free, I was not a survivor.

I had three types of chemo over six months. I decided to do chemo first and then surgery. I see that as a step one in an amazing amount of steps that happened afterwards that, when I look back, I think, “Okay, that was meant to happen.”

The word survivor for me was very challenging in the beginning. I hated that word. I was cancer-free, I was not a survivor. I’ve come to accept terms with that word in the last few years. I am now nine years cancer-free.

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