From Regional Director to Sharsheret Caller
In my work at Sharsheret, I frequently tell my “Sharsheret story” in which I relay the ways in which Sharsheret supported my mom during her breast cancer treatment. This story brings a personal note to the work that I do, and explains why I am in the role I am in today.
Due to my family history, and an elevated risk of cancer diagnosis in my lifetime, I regularly schedule screening tests, alternating mammograms and breast MRIs annually. August is breast MRI month for me, and so earlier this month, I went through the motions, uncomfortable as they may be, and moved on with my day. The results should be available within 48 hours I was told. At the 72 hour mark, when I still had heard nothing, my phone rang, and my doctor herself was on the line. My heart sank. There was a mass, she said; I needed follow up, she said. I could hardly process as the tears began to stream down my face. I quickly scheduled an ultrasound for the following day, and sat down at my desk. What does one do when they are faced with the unknown, how do I even process? It only took a moment of thought, and it dawned on me. I needed to call Sharsheret. Call Sharsheret? I am Sharsheret! But, this was different, I wasn’t a staff member in that moment, I had become a Sharsheret caller. Within minutes I was able to cry, yell, and express every concern I had, knowing my colleague on the other line would understand everything I was experiencing.
The next day I went to the ultrasound, armed with guidance from Sharsheret, knowing to bring my husband along, what questions to ask, how to proceed. The ultrasound was unable to detect the mass, and so I was whisked way, and scheduled for a biopsy. Words were said, and I nodded, but I am not sure I really understood what was going on – “MRI guided biopsy, vacuum assisted, will insert a clip to mark the spot, results within 48 hours.” But what did all this mean? And then I spoke to a peer, someone who had been there, and done that, and knew how to relate to my every emotion. I asked her questions about the test, personal questions, about my feelings, and with every question, it was as if I was speaking to my future self. She understood me at every pass. And so, after 7 sleepless nights I was back again for the MRI guided biopsy.
Coming home to my daughters, pain radiating throughout my chest, my 6 year old stated “If you have a boo-boo on your breast, why don’t you call your work friends? They help women with sick breasts; they can help you feel better!” All I could think, was, oh how right she was!
Thank god the biopsy results were benign; I simply had an unexplained mass of healthy breast tissue. With this experience I now have a new “Sharsheret story” to tell, one in which I can express with no uncertainty, that Sharsheret is a necessity for our community, to be there when you didn’t even know you needed us.