The Survivor I Didn’t Know I Knew

Editor’s Note: This post was written by NBCF Marketing Manager, Rebecca Anderson.

Breast cancer changes survivors in profound ways…sometimes more than others realize. I invited my friend, Dora, to participate in our recent Breast Cancer Awareness Month photo shoot because I knew she would have great insights on caring for women with breast cancer from her work as a Radiation Therapist. Additionally, Dora is photogenic, confident, and made a beautiful addition to the diverse group of women who participated. What I did not know at the time is that Dora is also a breast cancer survivor.

During the photo shoot, Dora, who is a member of her patients’ cancer care team, praised the role of patient navigators: “You cannot even begin to explain the value of a patient navigator. Patients don’t know what to ask. It’s a big benefit for them to have someone to guide them through their breast cancer experience.” This echoes the feedback we receive from our hospital partners, and we are honored to provide this guidance to women across the country through our Patient Navigator Program. Also a trained mammographer, Dora shared a great story about a group of friends that would come in each year for back-to-back mammogram appointments before going to brunch together. They turned what can be a dreaded—but very essential—appointment into something “fun” and communal.

It wasn’t until we’d chatted for nearly thirty minutes that Dora responded to one of my questions by saying, “Well, you know I’m a breast cancer survivor too, right?” And that was the moment I felt embarrassed. No, I had not known that…and I felt that I should have known something as impactful as that.

She then shared she was 47 when she was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer—just days before she was headed to Europe for vacation. She remembers telling her doctor, “Dr. Robbins, don’t give me any bad news today.” Still, she is grateful her routine screening mammogram did its job in detecting her cancer early, and she encourages other women to be proactive.

Prior to this conversation, I knew of Dora as a church friend who always has a smile on her face. I have admired how she and her husband of nearly 26 years still seem very much in love, and she has encouraged me as a mother with her sweet comments that my two young daughters remind her of her adult daughters as children.

I suspect Dora’s warmth and positive outlook have always been part of who she is, but she says overcoming this disease eleven years ago gave her a renewed purpose and changed outlook. I am certain her survivorship has contributed to the encouraging person I’ve always known her to be—I just hadn’t known the reason behind it.

Dora agreed to help us promote our eBook, What Every Woman Needs to Know, describing it as, “an amazing resource, full of invaluable information to get you focused on being proactive; the first step in staying healthy.” We are thankful Dora shared her story—and her smile—with us. We hope you’ll request your free eBook today!

Survivors smile for the camera

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