On October 10, 2018, the 10th Annual Drink Pink for a cause will take place at Bernard’s in Ridgefield. This event supports Ann’s Place while putting a spotlight on local breast cancer patients and survivors.
The photo you see here is one of Kristen Jensen’s “Courageous Faces”. This and many other photos of cancer survivors and those in the midst of treatment will blanket the walls of Bernard’s on October 10 telling a story of life, struggle, friendship, and hope.
Here, we couple the many Courageous Faces with their unique stories. We thank each and every one of these ladies for sharing their difficult journey with us.
Occupation: Human Resources Manager at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan.
Tell me about when you first learned you had breast cancer
It was December of 2016 when I received the call after my mammogram that I should come in for a biopsy. I had been in once before for a biopsy and at first thought this is nonsense why should I put myself through this again. I told myself that everything was fine. I almost canceled the appointment but ended up going in on December 13th. I’ll always remember laying on the table that day for the procedure not knowing yet any answers and thinking, I’m in my 40’s just like my mother had been when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. My thoughts went back to that moment when I was 16 and my mom told me and now there I lay wondering what was to come with two kids of my own. I recalled how devastating the news was as a teenager and I couldn’t bear to think how I would tell my own kids if this happened to me. The nurse and doctor stood over me quietly as the biopsy took place and towards the end asked me how old my children were. I said, “My daughter is 16 and my son is 19.” I think we all knew at that moment what was to come.
I received a call at work a few days later and after what felt like a lengthy detailed explanation from the nurse over the phone I asked her to repeat what she had first said. “You have breast cancer,” she said again. I felt paralyzed and sat in shock at my desk not knowing what I was supposed to do next. Why was this happening to me?
Who did you turn to for support and how was that person or organization supportive?
I was blessed to have found the cancer at such an early stage. I called each of my parents on that first day and they were both by my side throughout the process of surgery, chemo, Herceptin and radiation. My entire family was supportive and I am so grateful for all of their care. I also had so many friends that were so uplifting and constantly reminding me how strong I am. The visits, cards, phone calls and care packages all meant so much. I’ll never forget the endless posts of songs everyone sent one day to me on Facebook while I sat in chemo feeling horribly sick and how it brought tears of joy to my eyes. Their love lifted me through the darkness.
Tell me about something someone said or did that helped you through your most difficult days
The doctors and nurses at Greenwich Hospital were absolutely amazing! My Oncologist, Dr. Hollister, would give me a hug every time I saw him and reassure me that I was going to get through this and be ok and there are no words to even explain how outstanding the teams of nurses are! All of the staff was so caring and kind.
I had so much support from different areas of my life: family, friends and my workplace. It was so helpful to have a great boss and leadership that was caring, empathetic and flexible while I was recovering.
Do you look at life differently pre/post breast cancer diagnosis?
I do realize more now just how much the little things mean in life. A friendly smile or hello to that person on line in the grocery store can make a big difference. You just never know what that person next to you may be going through. Also, finding gratitude every day is so important.
What message do you have for others who have been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Fight, fight, fight! It’s a scary ride but you can make it through the bumps and dark times with a good support system such as Ann’s Place!
I am cancer free for over a year and now I truly know what a difference a year makes! J My mom is 30+ years cancer free!