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Breast cancer is deeply rooted in my family. My grandmother died of the disease when my mom was 6 years old. My mom was diagnosed 19 years ago, and I was diagnosed on Jan. 26, 2018.

I completed 16 grueling rounds of chemotherapy that resulted in 14 blood transfusions, two hospital stays and numerous other side effects that I’m still living with today.

2020年欧冠赛程表During the past year, I finished 28 rounds of radiation that left horrific burns on my chest. My skin is still healing in hopes of getting cleared for reconstruction surgery early next year. I also completed six months of oral chemo. I finished my treatment on July 3 and celebrated one year of NED (no evidence of disease) on Sept 17, the anniversary of my mastectomy surgery.

2020年欧冠赛程表I could tell you lots of stories about how terrible health insurance companies are, but I won’t waste ink on them. Just know that just because someone has insurance doesn’t mean everything is covered. I’m still fighting for my radiation treatments to be covered. Some medications that insurance companies don’t deem necessary will be denied, even though your health care provider prescribes them.

2020年欧冠赛程表It’s frustrating to fight with insurance companies while you’re fighting for your life.

2020年欧冠赛程表As I sit here typing, I’m at home recovering from surgery, a radical hysterectomy.

I’m still learning how to deal with my emotions as a cancer patient. I didn’t think I would have issues with getting a preventative hysterectomy because I have two beautiful children (Audrey, 7 and Alec, 4). But, there was something unsettling about this decision not really being mine to make. I got emotional as I drove into the hospital for my surgery. But, as I sat in pre-op I thought of all the patients who didn’t get the opportunity to have children and I started to become thankful.

2020年欧冠赛程表This recovering process has been more difficult than the one a year ago because I lost a friend and longtime supporter a few days after my surgery. She had a massive stroke on Sept. 21.

Remembering my friend

I met Barbara Thomas seven years ago and she quickly joined our village, helping to raise my two kids. After my breast cancer diagnosis, she was here offering love, support and prayers. She dyed her hair pink. She wore pink on Thursdays when I had chemotherapy treatments. She made meals for my family. She surrounded us with love and I’ll never forget her kindness.

2020年欧冠赛程表Barbara had the biggest heart and gave the best hugs. I’m so thankful I got the opportunity to have her in my life, especially when I needed her the most.

2020年欧冠赛程表Losing Barbara has given me one more reason to live life. You never know what day will be your last, so make each one count. I’m determined to live my life with as much love for others as Barbara did.

I won’t deny that I still have thoughts about my mortality. With every headache, bone pain or something that just doesn’t feel right, I let thoughts of a recurrence creep into my mind. I’ve asked my mom and other long-time survivors if that worry goes away, and they’ve said it gets better but it’s always in the back of your mind. You never really look at life the same way again.

2020年欧冠赛程表A cancer diagnosis will really smack you in the face and make you stop in your tracks. I’ve decided that I’m going to use this experience to help others, to advocate for change, to support patients, to fundraise for medical breakthroughs and to share my message.

For the newly diagnosed: You are joining a club that no one wants to be part of, but when you’re in it, you will be in awe of the strength and bravery you’ll witness.

Reach out to me if you ever feel alone.

For my fellow warriors: Keep fighting. Keep pushing forward. Keep spreading love to your fellow pink sisters and brothers.

2020年欧冠赛程表For the caregivers and friends: Everyone deals with the diagnosis differently. There is no correct way. Allow them to cry, be angry, be sad and be strong. Most importantly, just be there for them.

For everyone reading this: I highly recommend everyone with family history of the disease to get genetic testing. This includes men. I encourage self-examinations because early detection saves lives. Talk to your health care provider about breast health and cancer.

Don’t just think about it in October. Be proactive all year.

Penny Fisher is the News Director for the Naples Daily News.

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