From Lost Caller to Peer Supporter
Looking back almost ten years, I think the first overpowering emotion I associate with my Stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis at age 25 is loneliness. It came before fear, denial, sadness, anger, and pain. No one could possibly understand what I was experiencing. Enter Sharsheret. The staff, peers, resources, gifts in the mail, and the intense realization that I was in no way close to alone in my journey.
I will never forget my first peer phone call. Within 60 seconds, I experienced something that had not happened since diagnosis – I laughed. A lot. I started to feel like maybe everything was going to be ok and maybe there were people who could understand this insanity.
I spent 16 months doing chemo and then the real healing began. This stage was even harder than the illness itself. I had to figure out my “new normal” and rejoin my previous life. With Sharsheret staff and a new peer supporter, I started to figure it all out and focus on my future.
I re-entered the dating world. Who was I now? How was I going to address the “cancer thing?” It was a rough road of disappointment and confusion, and a different kind of pain. There were tear-filled conversations and practical advice from Sharsheret. In time, I was dating someone very special. He knew the broad strokes of my “story,” but not the real details. With help from Sharsheret, I figured out a very specific plan of action. Eventually, as a couple, we worked through difficult conversations and moments. Doesn’t everyone spend their fourth date sitting with an oncologist discussing cancer and the future?
I had found an incredible partner. But, the more my life was moving forward, the more it became clear that my cancer survivorship had a huge impact on each step. As I was getting married, Sharsheret came through again. The consistent support and meaningful help truly came from my Sharsheret Ladies, as I started calling them. I am blessed with a one-of-a-kind family whose love knows no boundaries – but for what they could not understand, they would ask, “Have you called Sharsheret?”
Most recently, I called Sharsheret for the next thing that has come up. We are expecting our first child and I needed a totally new kind of support. It was a really fun call to make and I know that there was joyful screaming in the office as these women had become like family.
Having had breast cancer at 25 changed my entire world. I thought I could do it alone. I was so wrong. I needed help and I got it from my Sharsheret Ladies. I am now a peer supporter to others and a speaker to college students and other young leaders. This transition from lost caller to peer supporter and presenter was a huge deal. I was recently on the phone with someone in the office and panicked when I asked if I could still call in as a survivor. I was told of course Sharsheret would be there for me and my family for many healthy and happy years to come.