“Unfortunately, we found signs of cancer in your left breast.”
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. I was 36. I didn’t have a family history of breast cancer; l lived a healthy lifestyle and worked as a part time fitness instructor. Breast cancer impacts far too many women and their families, and each journey is different. For me, I had to survive both cancer and the fear of the unknown. Was I going to survive? What would I look like? Would I still be feminine and attractive?
Through this experience and with the grace of God, I’ve learned to embrace changes in my body I never imagined – a process that helped me discover the meaning of real beauty and redefine my own femininity. I elected to have a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. The surgery took over seven hours. My surgical oncologist and reconstructive plastic surgeon at Emory Winship Cancer Center, Dr. Grant Carlson, is one of the most compassionate and competent doctors I’ve known. He made the process bearable and gave me strength and hope. Before the surgery began that morning, Dr. Carlson took my hand and told me that I would never be the same, but I would be ok. Reflecting on this today, I believe that I am actually better than just ok. I am a stronger, more confident, more compassionate person.
My encounter with breast cancer, like many obstacles in life, was a huge challenge, but also a great opportunity. It was a challenge to deal with radical changes in my body and the ever-present knowledge that the cancer can return. It is an opportunity to share with other women my story and my strongly held view that each of us is beautiful in our own way. We take what God has given us and make the very best of it, helping others along the journey. That is the MOXIE way; mind, body and core.