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Denise was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer August of 2018. She is a current member of Komen’s Treatment Access Program (TAP). The Komen Treatment Access Program removes the barriers to access treatment by financially assisting with transportation, food, and lodging.
During Denise’s battle with breast cancer, the most crucial learning experience became “everyone isn’t the same”. How she deals with it, how other patients deal with it, how her family deals with it, everyone deals with it in their own way. You lose so much time throughout the treatment process. Denise states with frustration that it’s “hard for things to get done”. Throughout the conversation, with hope in her voice, she encouraged others to “enjoy the moment”. She describes how beneficial it is to get up and stay active, both mind & body. Despite the situation, despite the fear, Denise stays optimistic. Without holding back, she says “life doesn’t stop for cancer so make the best of it”. Like a southbound train fueled with enthusiasm, Denise keeps chugging along one day at a time.
Denise describes her tenure in chemotherapy to be demanding yet interesting. Staying optimistic despite the tough times, humor became cancer’s kryptonite for Denise. Realizing individuals were going through different mindsets in therapy, it became apparent to Denise some opposed hearing or seeing her enthusiasm. Deep down she knew it was best for her to contend the situation. Denise spoke of a time her granddaughter, Grace, ran up bluntly speaking about her grandma’s hair loss. It made Denise think about how strange it is the way people act toward you, once you lose your hair. Denise was completing chemotherapy at the time her granddaughter spoke with her. Sadly, this prevented her from the classic 80’s rock’n hair flip. Overall, Denise acknowledged her granddaughter’s comments and with a spice of comedy replied: “if you start rubbing my head, I bet ya my hair will come back!”. So, each time Grace saw her grandma, she’d rub her head like it was her job. In moments like these, Denise makes the best out of situations by “talking through it with people”.
Denise would advise anyone recently diagnosed with breast cancer to “ride it out”. She explains that everyone’s journey through the disease is different. Unfortunately, the simple answer or simple choice isn’t always there. Having patience with doctors, treatment, procedures, family, and friends is key. Finding support from those around you makes a big difference, Denise describes. For many it’s troublesome to understand the difficulties of recovery. She points out how vital it is to have patience, an active mind, and most importantly humor throughout this process. Saying “Yes, things come up in life that aren’t so good but you gotta find something funny!”.