Survivor Stories -- Carol Franco
I am a 12.5 year survivor! The diagnosis came as a complete surprise. I was 36 and my youngest had just turned one. I found a lump and didn't think anything of it. A friend of mine told me she had a similar lump, and it was an infected gland. So I went to my OB/GYN to get it checked out. She told me there was no way it was cancer because I was too young, had breastfed both of my babies, and breast cancer doesn't hurt (my lump felt tender to the touch). She told me not to lose any sleep over it but that I should schedule a mammogram anyway. I really believed this lump was nothing. I went to get a mammogram on my lunch hour. They kept taking image after image, and I started to worry. Then they told me I needed an ultrasound followed by a biopsy right then and there. That's when I started to feel a pit in my stomach that something just wasn't right. Two days later, I was told on the phone while I was driving that I had cancer. I ended up having a lumpectomy, 8 rounds of chemo, and several weeks of radiation. I tried to continue to live my life as normally as I could, but I had to quickly learn how to not be the one always in control and let others help me. I survived...and I'm definitely stronger for it.
I was very fortunate because my friends really stepped up to help. They organized a driver and visiting schedule for days that I had chemo. It was amazing and comforting to have different friends to hang out with while you're sitting there for hours in the infusion chair. Plus, it was very educational for my friends to see what getting treatment is like. My wonderful circle of friends also set up a meal delivery schedule for 3 days every week that I had chemo. It was truly a gift to not have to worry about feeding the family when I was recovering from each chemo cycle, even if I didn't feel like eating.
Cancer was so life-changing. Although I do not wish cancer on anyone, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to celebrate life 12+ years after I was diagnosed, cancer definitely gave me some gifts. I met the most amazing women who have become lifelong friends. I am well equipped to be a support for friends who are going through medical issues or who have mammogram scares. I cherish life, and try not to sweat the small, unimportant stuff. I feel way more empathy for people who are going through trying times than I was ever capable of feeling before. And it was incredible to see my friends and family truly rally behind me. Life is beautiful...somehow even more so after cancer.
I use Handful pads to restore symmetry since my lumpectomy/radiated side is smaller. My Handful is by far my favorite sports bra! It's so comfortable and flattering! I am stronger now than I was pre-cancer. Even though I was a runner previously, I really wasn't in that great of shape. I work out 3-4 days a week, have run numerous half marathons, a couple of marathons, and even completed a triathlon...all these things I accomplished after cancer! I'm going to continue to show how strong we survivors are in my Battle Cry Pink Handful!! And just saying, I do want to look good while I'm working out!