When I discovered my fairly large breast mass, which seemed to have appeared overnight, I knew immediately from its characteristics that the diagnosis probably wouldn’t be good. During those first several weeks, I was overwhelmed with the feelings we all seem to share when experiencing a serious illness: shock, disbelief, fear of death, dread, and sadness. I coped with these feelings with a fierce determination to fight the disease as aggressively as possible.

My cancer and my decisions surrounding the disease became my primary focus. I have never regretted my decision to undergo mastectomies and reconstruction! During some very dark nights within my soul, the solid, loving compassion and attentiveness from my friends and family were ever present and sustained me in a way I would not have predicted. I am grateful to my physicians, who not only saved my life, but also related to me, each in their own unique, expert, and compassionate way.

Now, ironically, one year since the end of my chemotherapy, I find myself less complacent, more engaged in life, and appreciative of others in an enhanced way. And, by the way, I am loving the freedom of my short “fresh hair.”