Marlene: I’ve just been flopping around all my life thinking everything’s working and I’m healthy and I was probably running five to six miles a day and you know, everything felt great. I followed the best if diets. I watched my health I did all the prevention things you can do.
Woman A: I nursed two babies, I ran, I was low fat, I did everything I was supposed to do and still… no breast cancer or cancer in my family. So I was very, very surprised and I thought if I can get breast cancer anybody can.
Woman B: And so I thought it was just a little remnant from nursing, and so when I had that ache come and go I just thought it was nothing, except that I had a nagging thought come to me that I should call the doctor about that.
Woman C: You run five miles a day, you’re a vegetarian, you don’t drink, you don’t smoke. No way this is cancer. So we’ll watch it for a couple of months and I said, “Great.”
Woman D: A survivor of cancer 26 years. I don’t know where the years went. The night before, I was in bed was, I was doing a self exam and I felt a lump. I said to Fred, my husband, “There’s a bump there,” he said, “Oh, that’s bone.” I said, “No honey, that’s not bone.”
Woman E: But even to that point I honestly had no idea. I had no clue that it was going to be breast cancer.
Marlene: And I think to some people I was a very scary reminder, some of the people I work with, that I teach with would say. Well if Marlene Proctor [SP] can get cancer, then anybody can.
Woman A: When the doctor said, it’s positive, you have cancer. I looked around to see who he was talking to. Just did a biopsy and it was my husband in the room so I was astounded.
Woman E: …you know, “I’ve got some bad news, and it’s breast cancer,” and he just came right out and told me. I honestly looked at him and thought to myself this is, “Where’s the punch line? This isn’t funny.”
Woman C: When I woke up the doctor said… My husband was at my side, and he said, “I have some bad news for you. It’s cancerous and it was much larger than we thought it would be. We weren’t able to get it all so I recommend that you have a mastectomy as soon as possible.”
Woman E: Oh, I thought I was going to die. I mean I had no idea. I thought, you know, cancer is a death sentence, and that’s how I felt at that moment.
Woman B: When I first heard the diagnosis I was shocked. I was just shocked, totally shocked that this could happen to me. I was a water aerobics instructor. I’ve always been very athletic. I taught aerobics for years, I like to run. I like to do all kinds of sports.
Marlene: First of all I didn’t want to tell my daughter that I had cancer. I thought maybe if I didn’t tell her she would be, OK.
Woman D: First of all, I thought I was going to die. Secondly, my children were in college and I thought I’d never see them graduate from college and never be a grandmother. I was looking forward to being a grandmother. And I would never be able to do my profession.
Woman C: I felt so bad about what I was going to put my family through. And my daughter was 13 at the time and my son was 18, and I remember thinking my daughter had already lost her father and it just wouldn’t be fair for her to have to go through life without a mother, especially her teenage years. So I vowed at that time that I would live at least until she got out of high school.
Woman B: After the shock my first thought was fear, and I was just afraid of having to leave my little kids and not be able to raise them. And I just wanted to be around and to see them grow and grow up. And they needed their mommy. And so I was in the hospital and I was out of commission for about a month.
Woman E: And that was really devastating at that moment but it was also really renewing because I realized what’s most important in your life. All the other stuff just flew right out of the door.
Woman D: Before Larry left he said to me. “I hope that I can have the courage you have, mom, in my life.”
Woman E: I don’t think I could’ve gone through what I went through without my husband. I remember one time I just felt so sick after the chemo and I went to my room and just laid down and said, you know what, “I’m done. I’m just done, I don’t want to go through this anymore.” And in his own way he said, “You will get up, and you will go put your shoes on, and I don’t care how sick you are, and I don’t care if you’re going to throw up. We’re going to go outside, and we’re going to walk around this beautiful place we live in and you’re going to realize why you’re not giving up.”
Woman C: I came out of it and was told, “Okay,” and that’s when I went, “Okay, now what?” At that point I realized that I had been fighting cancer physically for two years and so much emphasis was on fighting the physical disease, which is important, but that there was some emotional and some spiritual things going on inside that hadn’t even been dealt with. And I found it difficult to suddenly stop fighting and think about living.
Marlene: Sometimes it’s scary and I think this, and once again I think this is based on the fear of the unknown. And I think when you become healthy and you move past some of these stages. I think it’s one way that you protect yourself.
Woman A: And one of the things that would be so wonderful about having a retreat together or whatever us putting women in like circumstances together. Desperately we need that, desperately.
Woman B: And even though I wouldn’t choose this on anybody, and it’s not something I would’ve willingly wanted to have gone through. I can see that there’s been so many added benefits in my life, the will to live. I mean I can say that I have lived more in the last two years of my life than over the whole time, because every day is a gift now. And the time with my kids is so precious. I enjoy every little thing. The simple things mean so much.
Woman D: I hope through education and dollars a cure for cancer will be found. And not in too many distant years.
Woman C: I made a shift from thinking about dying to thinking about living. Instead of thinking what if I die. I started thinking, what if I live. And how do I want to live my life now that I realize how precious life is and how easily it can be taken away from us.
Woman E: Just the other day I was saying to somebody I wish some days I could look in a mirror and I could see myself bald because when I was bald I could look at my face and I didn’t have eye lashes or eyebrows or hair, and I was pale and ashen and I would look and say, you are beautiful because people are looking into your eyes and they’re seeing your soul through your eyes.
Marlene: You’ve got to show them there are survivors out there and healthy survivors.
Woman D: I was looking forward to being a grandmother and I would never be able to do my profession. I modeled all my life since I was 19, and it was a nice side line. It was a great ego booster to me, to be a model. And I had many different tentacles and my teaching, and did consult. I’ve been able to help people through my talent as it were that God gave me.
Woman E: Breast cancers not a death sentence and that you can survive it.
Woman B: When I first got the cancer one of my first thoughts also was like my life is totally going to change because I’m in a bathing suit a lot. I teach water aerobics. I thought how can I do this without breasts. I’ll look defigured [sic], but with the modern miracles of medicine, the reconstruction came out wonderful. I feel like I have been able to continue on with my life and there’s days that people come up to me and they say, I’m just shocked that you went through all of this. You just look so good.
Woman E: And I think that’s what you need. You need a number one fan in your life. Everyone does, people who don’t have breast cancer need that.
Woman C: Even though I was surrounded by wonderful supportive people I remember feeling so alone. Except for the few times that I had the experience of talking to another woman that had breast cancer and was going through the same thing. And then I didn’t feel as alone.
Woman B: I think it’s a great thing. I think that women who have gone through this, that they need the support. The support has to be there, it’s what helps you go forward with your life. It helps you to feel good about yourself again. I know in water aerobics I had several ladies come to my classes now and we have this little group that meets on Saturdays, and it’s so neat to see these ladies that have gone through chemo and they are fine. They are well, they are healthy, they look fit, and they’re so full of life and I know from seeing that, like just on a small basis what this image reborn is going to do for so many woman. It’s going to be a very good positive thing.