A cancer diagnosis is about the worst news a person can receive in their lifetime. There is plenty of bad news and negatives with cancer, so focusing on the positive and the strength of an individual can shed light on an otherwise dim situation.
Linda Zimmer, one of my mother’s best friends, is one of those people placing importance on strength and positivity throughout her breast cancer journey. In fact, she is just celebrating five years cancer free this month! Zimmer has become an inspiration for other women battling the disease and a strong advocate of preventative care.
Zimmer was diagnosed in 2008 with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. After receiving a lumpectomy in her right breast, she learned her cancer was very aggressive and 50 percent of the cancer was still present. At that point, she also received testing to find out whether genetics was playing a role in her predisposition, especially since her mother and two sisters had breast cancer. Though her tests came back negative, she still made the tough decision to have a bi-lateral mastectomy.
Zimmer notes, “I made my decision because I never wanted anyone to ever call me in the future and tell me I had cancer in my left breast.”
One of the biggest pieces of advice Zimmer learned to follow during her recovery was to lean on the support and assistance of family and friends.
“It is not a time to say ‘no’ to family and friends. If people offer to help you, say ‘yes.’ You may need to help them one day,” she says. Additionally, she stresses being informed going into your doctor’s appointments and bringing someone with you to help take in all of the information and instructions. Zimmer explains, “The first appointment is so surreal. I was scared, but I knew I had to be there, and I had to get through whatever was thrown at me.”
From the moment she began recovery and regained her strength, Zimmer knew she wanted to help other women. She now volunteers at a breast cancer clinic in a local hospital.
“I love being there for these patients; I never would have applied for this position had I not gone through what I went through five years ago,” states Zimmer.
Zimmer does not regret her decision of an aggressive bi-lateral mastectomy in the slightest. In fact, she credits getting yearly mammograms for detecting the cancer in the first place. Now, the peace of mind she has and the notion of recovery and being cancer free outweighs any of the struggles she faced with surgery and reconstruction.
What inspirations do you draw from in your own journey?
Photo credit: ruth flickr