Benita Backhaus

Life hasn’t been easy for Benita. She experienced loss in many ways, starting with her older sister, who passed from breast cancer, her younger brother, who passed away from lymphoma, and her beloved service dog who passed from lymphoma as well. It was then at 66 years old, that Benita was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through all of this, Benita remained dedicated to life itself. She remained hopeful that brighter days were just around the corner.

Benita loves her family and friends who provided support throughout her journey. “I’d get a call everyday—they’d call, check in, make sure I was doing okay, and ask if I needed anything” Benita shared.

She’s realized the fragility of life and has countless life lessons to share. “I could’ve lost it all in just the snap of a finger.” With an incredible sense of gratitude, Benita continued to reflect on what meant the most to her.

“The little things mean the most—I stood up the other day with a cup of coffee, looked at this beautiful beach – I had to take a walk and admire nature—it’s the simple things that you don’t usually do.”

With everything Benita has endured, she advocates on the importance of social interactions, whether it’s with people you care for deeply, your furry friend, or even the company of nature. Benita said “it takes two seconds out of your day to just give [the people you love] a call.” To co-survivors, she wants to emphasize how each interaction, no matter how small, means much more than you could ever imagine.

Benita reminisced on times before her diagnosis, explaining how she was diligent about checking herself for lumps, especially after her sister’s dianosis. “I made sure to check myself for lumps or anything odd—but I never found anything….my doctor did”.

With a soft and caring voice, Benita advises those recently diagnosed with breast cancer to “do what you think is best—follow your heart but listen to your doctor”. Referencing her experiences with various doctors, she advises those to “find that right doctor that you [can] trust,  makes you feel special, and confident.”

Benita said her experience at St. Vincent Hospital is unforgettable. “I truly feel they are part of my family!” Continuing, she said the doctors, nurses, staff at infusion, nurse navigator, and social worker made a “huge difference” in her recovery. With gratitude and appreciation Benita explained “I feel we do not give enough recognition to these wonderful souls who help us through this difficult time.  But I want them to get recognition for all their hard work, wonderful treatment, and kindness they gave me. I can’t thank them enough!”

In discussing accomplishments throughout her journey Benita, with confidence, said “getting through chemo or my infusions was my biggest accomplishment.” She mentioned how special it was completing her chemotherapy with other people beside her. With deep sincerity, she continued saying “being surrounded by other people, unfortunately some very young—made me realize how blessed I am”.

In her final comments, Benita mentioned the role the Komen Foundation played in her life. In reference to the Treatment Access Program, she said “you guys at Komen have the beautiful program that helped me out with gas…having to drive over 2.5 hours one way sometimes twice a week—-if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have been able to even go to treatment”.

Benita is truly an inspiration. Her gracious, kind-hearted, and determined attitude on life is admirable. It’s folks like Benita who make this world a better place. Thank you, Benita!


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