I met Ginny on the b_inspired Cancer Warriors Retreat to Mexico. Here is her story…
Tell us your story / stats:
I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer at the age of 53. The cancer was found during my yearly mammogram. I was called back after my mammogram to check a suspicious spot. I had been called back multiple times before so I thought nothing of it. Well, they did an ultrasound and a biopsy and then said the dreaded words nobody should ever hear….you have cancer.
What went through your head when you were first diagnosed?
My first thought was “are you f**king kidding me? Cancer? No way!” Then I thought…….I don’t want to die. I stared at my husband in silence and let the tears roll down my face. How will I tell my kids? I don’t have time for this. And over and over again…….what the f**k?
What are some of your personal coping skills during difficult times?
Humor is the best medicine for me. I laugh and cry and laugh some more. I make jokes and pretend everything is okay. I found myself supporting those around me as they all seemed so very stressed out. I thought……”I am the one with cancer and you are all very upset.” So I smiled and joked and pretended it was all okay!
Tell us about your support system. Or lack of. Where do you get your support from?
I am blessed beyond belief to have the most amazing support system. My husband…..my rock…….my best friend……my cheerleader……my decision maker when I could think no more. As hard as my kids tried to be supportive, I could hear the stress in their voices and see the pain in their eyes. We laughed and cried together a lot and maneuvered the road together. I found myself making sure that they were okay which actually became a distraction from the madness. I have an especially great group of women in my life who were there when I needed them…..and when I didn’t. I also have an amazing group of co-workers who stepped up to the plate and told me to “just get it done” and don’t worry about this place. I also heard my mother’s voice everyday (she passed away 9 years ago)……”Ginny, put on your big girl panties” …… and so I did!
What have you learned about yourself since dx?
I have learned that I am braver and stronger than I ever knew. You don’t know how you will react to something until you are faced with it. I also have met the most AMAZING people throughout this journey and have been humbled by so much. And most important, I realized that I need to start focusing on what is important and stop stressing over the stupid stuff in life.
What do you believe is a common misconception about being diagnosed? Or something that you’d like the general population to know about C.
Cancer is cancer. Stage 1, 2, 3 or 4. It is scary as shit to hear those words no matter what stage you are at.
Where are you at in life now? Mentally, physically, emotionally…
I think I am at a really good place. Physically I feel good — in lieu of being thrown back into menopause by the estrogen blockers! I think that mentally and emotionally I will always be a little scared and timid that those words could come back and haunt me. I am petrified every time I go to a 6 month check and then elated when I am still cancer free. It is kind of like an exhausting roller coaster ride that I don’t think will ever end.
Have you noticed any lasting effects on your families and friends?
The most affected people in my life are my children. I think that they will forever be scared that they could lose their mother to cancer. My daughter won’t talk about it and my son writes rap songs about it. Everybody deals in their own way.
If you could send a message to yourself from 10 years ago… how would that go?
Stop sweating the small stuff. Love your husband, hug your children. Smile and be silly. Stop worrying what other people think. Love hard and laugh often. Live in the present because yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, phrase, or curse word?
Whenever the day comes to travel to the “great beyond”, what do you hope people remember about you?
That I made them smile and laugh.
If people take away anything from your story, it would be…
Get your mammograms!