Survivorship Reflections… 11 Years Later
Guest blog by Susan G. Komen Advocate in Science member Judy Johnson, St. Louis, MO
Today is the 11th anniversary of the day I underwent surgery for early-stage breast cancer. A lovely dinner with the man I love is only hours away! We are looking forward to continuing to live our lives with gusto each and every day – as many of us who have survived breast cancer do.
Eleven years ago, I was afraid of how my life would change after receiving the dreaded diagnosis of breast cancer. I will never forget the feeling… like a big punch in the stomach, and a feeling of not being able to move or speak. Time stood still for what seemed like minutes, but it was probably only seconds. For those of you who are newly diagnosed, this may sound familiar. As you process the emotions and information that come along with diagnosis, I can share with you that my many survivor friends felt this way, too. And, after time passes and the healing begins, a “new normal” begins to evolve. Most of us are now very happy in our lives, and I hope that you will be able to move in this direction as your journey through treatment and recovery evolves.
Shortly after my own journey with breast cancer began, my journey with Susan G. Komen began as well. Komen has been an important part of my life for the last ten years. I’ve been involved in the St. Louis Race for the Cure each year – either in person or in spirit when I couldn’t be there.
Four years ago, I applied to become a member of Komen’s Advocates in Science (AIS)– a community of dedicated volunteer advocates who are passionate about breast cancer research. And early in 2013 I applied and was asked to become an AIS Steering Committee member. As a member of the AIS, I have participated in the Komen Peer Review process for the last few years. It’s a rigorous process where individuals of all disciplines – physicians, researchers, clinicians and patient advocates – review research proposals and select those that offer the most promise to save lives and ultimately end this disease.
Since being involved with AIS, I have seen progress made in treating patients, managing side effects, and finding new ways to battle recurrences. As patient advocates and survivors, we can, and do, make a difference and influence how research dollars are spent to help cure breast cancer. I feel a great deal of satisfaction and fulfillment to be able to have direct involvement in fighting breast cancer.
Life since breast cancer has certainly brought me a number of things to be grateful for. As the proud “grammy” of a nine-month old grandson, I feel joy in seeing him grow. I savor the beauty of the world around me and enjoy sharing the joy with my friends, family and loved ones. Each and every year of survivorship is special in its own way, and I look forward to many more.
Best wishes for happiness to all on this National Cancer Survivor’s Day!
About the author
Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.