Rays of Resilience

Her Story Starts Like So Many Others: A Routine Mammogram

Rays of Resilience: 31 Stories in 31 Days. So many people around the world have been affected by breast cancer, yet no two breast cancer journeys are the same. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re celebrating a new survivor every day. Their resilience is an inspiration to us all.


My name is Renea.

My story starts like many others: a routine mammogram. I’m good about doing them annually, as well as doing monthly self exams and routine exams with my doctor.

But this time I get a call my doctor wants to see me. My heart pounds, but there is still hope it’s nothing, right? No such luck. My doctor already has me set up to see a surgeon… on the day after Christmas. Hard to be full of holiday cheer, but I have kids and grandkids.

Meeting the surgeon feels surreal. The biopsy is scheduled. The worry and stress is compounded by the upsetting thought of how to pay for all of this.

On January 11, I get the news — it’s cancer.

The surgery is scheduled. It’s all so scary, but the surgery goes well.

I meet the oncologist. He’s not my favorite, but he seems competent. He orders radiation — 6 weeks! Every day, an hour away! During this time, I have a number of weird issues come up at every stage.

I hated needing help from my family. But at the beginning I found an online support group that saved my sanity every day. And I had wonderful support from my friends and colleagues at work! Three of them worked out time to drive me to radiation. Another friend came to me after finding a lump and I was able to help her through her initial appointments.

No one wants breast cancer, but the women I’ve met in the midst of it are the strongest I know! We didn’t ask to show our strength to the world, but here we are!


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