Dear Joan, My breast cancer story started about 20 years ago when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer while I was a freshmen in college. It was scary. She had a mastectomy, chemo, lost her hair - a true warrior. Fifteen years later, she discovered cancer in her other breast and she had another mastectomy. Fast forward 7 years later, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. My petite 5 ft mom has been through it all and she is still a warrior. About 2 months ago, I was diagnosed with stage 1 cancer. Because of my mom, I am diligent with my mammograms and in early March, my mammogram results caused my healthcare provider to tell me that they see something on my mammogram and they wanted me to come back in 6 months to do a recheck. After a wonderful Spain vacation in July, we came home and I was conducting a breast exam and I felt a lump. It made me nervous because the doctor had said to come back. In one day, I had a mammogram, ultrasound and a needle biopsy. Four days later, I received the unfortunate news that I had breast cancer. It was shocking to hear but I wasn't surprised.

It is the weekend before my surgery and I am not anxious. So many friends and coworkers have described me in the weeks prior as calm and courageous. I describe myself as a girl with a plan! My hope is that the results show no cancer in my lymph nodes which will mean no radiation and no chemo. I know there are many women before me who have had to endure this treatment, including my mom. These are the women who are courageous...they have paved the way for women like me to be diligent with my mammograms and detect my cancer early. I know that I am blessed. I am looking forward to having this surgery behind me. I know I have a large community praying for my health and speedy recovery.

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