Facing breast cancer at 36…now what?
By: Pamela Wolfe, Sharsheret Peer Supporter
Every day for the past two and a half years, breast cancer has been a part of my life. It is a subject I live and breathe, and on any occasion, I’ll gladly try to educate others or answer questions. It is a subject I feel very knowledgeable about since I took the crash course, “So you are 36 and have breast cancer….now what?” I was very lucky though, because I had fantastic friends and family who held me up and helped me through my personal battle.
When my Hadassah chapter asked me to share my experience as a young Jewish woman with breast cancer at a local event, I happily accepted, eager to speak about a disease I feel I can’t do enough about. I was asked to highlight 5 unique things I learned that others might not know, which made me question what was unique about my experience? Doesn’t every woman know about breast cancer? It made me realize that while most women do know about breast cancer, they probably don’t know about the challenges faced by a 36 year-old woman who didn’t want to be treated like she was diagnosed at 65, who still had a dream of starting a family someday, and who chose not to do chemo in favor a new treatment protocol.
I shared the intimate details of my ”new” world, one where I take pills in the morning that have life-altering side effects, but are the key to sustaining my life. For me, it is life. For the people listening, it is a side of breast cancer they never knew about. I have had the honor of being part of Sharsheret’s Link Program and using my personal experience to help other young Jewish women facing breast cancer. I am one of the truly blessed ones. I am fighting and surviving. I feel as if the reason I am still here, alive today, is to do just what I have done: educate women, raise awareness, and help others fight the fight.