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Imagine turning 41 and getting your first mammogram only to find out that you have Stage 3 breast cancer requiring a bilateral mastectomy, 8 rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and reconstruction. Nancy Harrington received this diagnosis, and still considers herself very lucky. If she had waited another year for her mammogram, she may not have made it.
At the time of her diagnosis, Nancy’s two children were 8 and 11 years old and had the active lives that kids that age do. Nancy did her best to balance her family’s activities at the same time as her appointments, but that was made even more challenging by the fact that they lived in Klamath Falls and would have to travel up to 2,000 miles over the course of her treatment just to get to her appointments. Fortunately for Nancy, she was able to take advantage of Komen’s Treatment Access Program and receive gift cards to help with the gas, food, and lodging. Nancy says, “Because of the help from Komen, I didn’t feel like my family had to suffer at the expense of my treatment.”
Nancy also had help from her mother who would come and stay with her kids for a week every time she had a surgery. Her best friends sent her a box filled with great memories and encouraging thoughts for future memories. Her friends even made a fun girls weekend trip to Eugene to pick out new hair.
In addition to the support from Komen, family and friends, it was her co-workers that really surprised her. Where Nancy works, employees are allowed to donate their sick time to other employees. Nancy missed a total of 10 weeks due to her surgeries, but she never had to take one day without pay because everyone she worked with donated their time to her.
Nancy says that maintaining your lifestyle as best you can is important. “Don’t let the cancer define you as a person,” Nancy said, “Be you – take what you know about yourself and concentrate on that. Keep a positive attitude, but let the bad days happen too.”