Half the battle against cancer is having the will, strength and hope to fight the disease.
Survivor’s Corner was created as a place for cancer patients to share their stories so that insights regarding their struggles might help others. Read the personal accounts of how others coped and gain strength from knowing that you are not alone in your fight. Check back periodically for new messages of hope and inspiration.
My name is Jennifer Collins and I am a Breast Cancer Survivor. Hmmm, how easy it is to say that now. I remember the first time someone asked me if I was a Survivor. I thought and said “I don’t know yet.”
I think the hardest part of my journey was when I was first told I had cancer. It took my breath away. It was all I could think of. I was so frightened. One of the best things I did for myself was to call an old friend that lived in Florida who had been through this before. The first thing she asked was what kind of breast cancer do you have? What kind? I didn’t know there were different kinds!
She told me to get my hands on all of the latest books on breast cancer I could find. One of the most easy to read and had good information was Breast Cancer for Dummies! I recommend it. She told me of so many things that truly helped me such as what to expect with surgery and so on. Because I was aware and had information it gave me some control and allowed me a part in my treatment. Please try to talk to someone and read, read, read!
As I started to recover from my surgery I was invited to attend a Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure. It was a huge turning point for me. Until that time I felt like the Lone Ranger despite my family and friends always being supportive and loving. I could not believe how many women Survivors were at the Race. Thousands! It made me feel better about it all. I guess the word for it is…hope.
Someone who was well meaning warned me not to talk to anyone that was waiting for their treatment. They thought it might depress me because some of them were so ill. But I thought to myself, I need to turn this negative which is Breast Cancer and its treatment to a positive for my own sake. So I talked and talked to everyone in that waiting room and basically everyone I met. This was above all the biggest turning point for me. We shared our stories, got tips from each other, prayed for each other and we celebrated our victories. The people I met, I will never forget. I still am part of a group of women who see each other regularly. I was told once that I really helped these people, but it was I who received the best blessing. They turned the negative into a wonderful positive for me!
When I was going through radiation treatment, it was customary to bring something in for the staff on the last day. Let me stop here for a minute and express to you how much I appreciated the staff at Mercy Medical Center. They are by far the most supportive, caring and professional people I have ever met. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was kind to me. Well a few years earlier I had begun painting in watercolors…mostly birds because I love birds! And always as gifts for people. So I decided I would paint birds for them. I believe God inspired me to put a pink ribbon in its beak. While I was thinking about this I decided I would paint one for each of the departments that helped me. So I painted Bluebirds for my surgeon and his staff and called the painting Courage. Radiation Therapy received a Cardinal named Strength. The Cancer Center received a Goldfinch named Hope. Then after some time, I also painted a Mockingbird for the wonderful friend who helped me every step of the way and called it Friendship. Finally, I painted a Cedar Waxwing named Faith for myself. I am sharing this because working on art or a craft or anything that helps your mind relax, is a healer.
You know now I realize that when we call ourselves Survivors it’s not saying we will never get it again. It’s saying that we faced it and overcame. It means we are strong! So say it because we are!
Please feel free to email me at anytime. If I can help anyone, it will again be a positive for me. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Please note I travel quite a bit with our business so if I do not respond right away please be patient. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
~ Jennifer Collins, Breast Cancer Survivor!