Hope Lives Ambassadors
Hope Lives invites people who are dealing with breast cancer and either are or have been in active treatment to become ambassadors. As an ambassador, they speak to the community about Hope Lives, share their personal story, and share how Hope Lives services and care have enhanced their lives while going through treatment.
Age of Diagnosis: 31 Stage: 3
I was diagnosed in May 2018. A year earlier, in May 2017, I had felt a lump and made an appointment. The physician felt the lump and said it was nothing even though my mom had been diagnosed a few months prior at Stage 0. As it turns out, that lump was cancer.
Chemo was definitely a bad adventure, but I was surprised at how hard radiation was – the degree of burns that lead to bleeding. I still receive a “chemo-lite” cocktail and I get 14 infusions of this since my cancer didn’t completely respond to neoadjuvant chemo.
I didn’t want to hear my prognosis numbers after surgery. I ended up seeing them because my doctor shared clinical trial findings with me that pertained to a new treatment to increase my changes of squelching the cancer. When I did see my prognosis statistics, I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to get that new treatment and I’d do whatever it takes to get it, even leave the country!
Right around Christmas, I got approved for this new “chemo-lite” treatment. That day I drove to Utah and adopted a puppy. She is very calm and sweet, and I would like her to be a therapy dog if she’s up to it. Her name is Joy. I want to be more involved in therapy in general.
Every now and then, I have to reassess and not be angry about the possibility that if the lump had been addressed one year earlier, I may not have needed such aggressive treatments. It is really life changing and I sometimes grieve thinking of my pre-cancer self that didn’t have all of this worry and life altering side effects. I miss my estrogen, but it was killing me. It can sadden me that the medicines I am on to keep me alive have a ripple effect. I’ve already been told I have osteopenia in my spine.
One night after a beautiful weekend, I realized I actually don’t want to be in the sad girls’ club anymore – women not happy with what they’re doing but don’t change it. I want a low stress job and I want more free time to be with loved ones and creating art. I am taking steps every day to change this, even trying out a job shadow with the radiation therapists at UCHealth.
I am taking more control of my life and what I do with my time. I still think I’ll live to 99 but I will live each day like it’s not guaranteed. If I’m not feeling sick today, even more reason to enjoy it!
I really loved the services I received through the Hope Lives program. I used my vouchers for microblading and acupuncture. Microblading is a total body-image blessing! Acupuncture is an amazing treatment that really works! I also used vouchers for a wig but only wore it on special occasions – usually the chemo day date nights. I used vouchers for art therapy. Art therapy made me think I want to go back to school and consider getting licensed in a therapeutic area!
Services and products are pricy. I continue to use my vouchers because insurance doesn’t cover the obvious things that you would expect. The Hope Lives program made a huge difference in my treatment.