On a trip to Hawaii, Trish was enjoying her time with the warm sand between her toes when she noticed something abnormal. During a self-exam, she noticed a small, but rather significant lump. Growing up, she watched her mother’s friend battle breast cancer but never thought she’d go through the same journey. Unfortunately, the lump turned out to be breast cancer and shortly after, her treatment began. She received a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy for one month.
She compares going to chemo like going to the orthodontist: “It’s just something that you have to do.”
Around 6 months after her diagnosis, Trish began losing her hair. Despite this, her optimism shined through.
“The hair part is no fun, but it makes getting ready in the morning a lot faster,” she exclaimed!
After she decided to shave off the hair she had left, she decided she needed something to cover her head. Trish said she tried wearing bandannas, but “I couldn’t do it, I felt too much like a pirate,” she laughed. Instead, she opted for decorative knit hats.
Even though Trish was fighting breast cancer, she didn’t let it stop her from “doing her thing.” For Trish, one of the most important things to remember in battling cancer is to keep a positive attitude. She recalls having good days and bad days, but it was her optimism and support system that got her through it all. When Trish began chemo, her husband stepped in and refused to let her go to any session alone. The other families at her children’s schools and sports teams helped her with meal planning and driving her kids everywhere they needed to go. If Trish needed anything, she knew she could count on her friends and family to help her out. After her 10th year of being cancer-free, Trish brought flowers to all the people who helped her while she was in treatment – a thank you for all their love and thoughtfulness.
Even though her treatments sometimes made her feel too sick to get out of bed, Trish advocates for patients to listen to their doctor. “Chemo is the worst thing ever, but it can save you,” she said. She remembers all the services available for breast cancer patients as being almost overwhelming, but she recommends others to reach out and educate themselves. “Get yourself a network,” she advised.
Trish also talked about the tremendous strides that Susan G. Komen has made in research solely in her lifetime. She finished her treatment right before the Race for the Cure of that year; the event served as something she could look forward to and a sign that her current treatment would be over. Trish recalls being given a pink shirt at the walk, indicating that she was a survivor: “Everyone in pink shirts were of all shapes and sizes…I knew I wasn’t alone.”
Along with the support of her friends and family, she found support in other survivors. It was at the Race that Trish knew she had an entire team of people willing to help her take on anything!