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Mary W., 56 y.o. 12 Year Survivor

Posted Jun 23 2009 6:55pm
Hi Mary,

Thanks for sharing your story.

First of all, what a jerk your husband is! Ok I just had to say that. But you know, everything happens for a reason and God is in control of everything. Glad you are able to see the positives that came out of you having cancer.


My name is Mary. I am 56 and a 12 year surivor of breast cancer. I have also been divorced for 12 years since my husband and father of 2 of my children, told me the day I called him to tell him my diagnosis that he wanted a divorce.

My children were 7,9 and 17 at the time of my diagnosis in September 1996. My youngest was scared and my 9 year old, a daughter with Down's Syndrome, didn't understand it. My oldest was so afraid he would lose me. After being reassured I would do all the doctors told me to, and have lots of help from families, friends and our faith, they calmed down. It was so difficult initially to imagine going through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation alone but I was never alone. My mother and step father stayed with us for several days after each chemo treatment. I saw this time as a time of opportunity, special times to get closer to my three children and they to me as well as their grandparents. I was able to volunteer in their classrooms when I was between treatments and feeling so much better. Even at my weakest, my children would come home from school and climb on my bed telling me about their day and at night when the "alone-ness" was felt they would check on me, put my music cassettes on to help me sleep better.

I had a wonderful book given to me by my oconologist that had survivors stories and quotes in it and my favorite was about this disease affecting my body and mind but not my spirit. I tried so hard even when my hair was falling out, to keep a positive spirit. My wig wasn't a reminder of my cancer, but that I looked pretty hot as a redhead! I continue to encourage friends who are going through cancer and give them some of my helpful hints - anything to make it a little less frightening. Probably the best thing I did was to have a port installed for the chemo and the blood draws....I was fortunate to have the chemos given in my home by the nurse.

I came through it all with a better more confident sense of myself. I see myself as brave and know that I simply did what I had to do. My 3 children are all remarkably loving, kind, patient and involved in giving back to the fight to find a cure for cancer. Although at the time of the divorce I thought it was horrible, it actually was a decision I am thankful for now.

Thank you,
Mary W.
Palm Springs, CA.
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