Two days before her birthday, Sandra was shopping at Fred Meyer when she received the call…she was diagnosed with lobular breast cancer. Despite working as a cardiac nurse for the past 50 years, she was unfamiliar with cancer; she knew it was a horrible thing, but not much more and described herself as a ‘deer in headlights’. She remembers thinking, “I wasn’t afraid, I was more like, ‘what do we do now?’” A week after the call, her doctor urged Sandra and her husband to attend the Susan G. Komen Oregon and SW Washington Breast Cancer Issues Conference to learn as much as they could about the disease.
Sandra made the decision to go vegan and after 9 months of medication Sandra had surgery and began radiation therapy. Her entire perception of therapy shifted when her doctor told her, “Let radiation kill every little bit of cancer in you.” Sandra’s attitude shifted to positivity and determination because she believes your outlook plays a huge role in recovery.
“Your attitude will affect the outcome,” Sandra said. “I know people say that all the time, but it’s really true.”
Sandra is grateful for all the support she has received since her diagnosis, calling herself ‘exceptionally blessed’. With a large base of friends, family, and medical professionals, Sandra never felt alone or hopeless during the process. From each hand-written card and warm hug, she is forever grateful. When her hair began falling out, Sandra was disappointed that she could no longer get a head-turning perm, like she always had. But to her surprise, everyone loved her new look, asking why she hadn’t styled her hair this way sooner!
As a spiritual person, cancer has inspired Sandra to share her gifts and story with others. Sandra welcomes those without a family as her own ensuring they feel a sense of acceptance & adoration. After facing cancer, Sandra finds that everyone’s purpose begins with being of service to others. “When I leave, I want them to feel that their life is better because they knew me. That’s sort of my motto,” she explains. Sandra advises others who are diagnosed to never give up and always seek further knowledge of the disease. Throughout her time with cancer, she advocates for finding a positive support group, not only for your benefit, but in the best interest of others, too.
After discussing a day that she spent outside with her grandchildren, Sandra said, “It’s beautiful, it’s wonderful. It’s great to be alive, isn’t it?” With a determined attitude, optimistic mindset, and passionate motive to serve others, Sandra does indeed show how great it is to be alive.