National Cancer Survivors Day

Breast Cancer Experience: Nicole's Story of Hope

Having overcome breast cancer twice, former Virtua patient Nicole recognizes the importance of positivity in healing and recovery.  

Here's her story in her own words...

In July 2014, I was so focused on getting my daughter off to her freshman year in college that I didn't have time to fret as I normally do over my annual mammogram. I was coming up on three years out from my first bout of breast cancer, so I thought it was smooth sailing. 

Well that wasn’t the case. I was told I had recurrence in the left breast. I was going to have to face surgery and chemo, but I had a wonderful team of doctors through Virtua—from my family doctor to my breast surgeon, from my reconstruction doctor to my cardiologist. Together they helped to get me through my ordeal. 

I decided to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction in August. I also had chemo, which ended the day after Christmas—the best Christmas gift ever! I'm still getting immunology treatment, but that will end in October. 

How have your cancer diagnosis and treatment changed your outlook on life?

My cancer diagnosis has changed my life because it has made me look at what really matters in life, what is really important. First, I am much more spiritual, my faith in God and my relationship with God is very strong. 

I actively filter what I allow to come into my life but more importantly, I laugh a lot more and show love at all times. I appreciate each day, hour and minute because they are all precious and a gift from God. 

How has cancer changed your lifestyle?

I was never a big fitness buff, but after my first diagnosis, I begin to take better care of my body and eat better. I started running with a run group in the community, and I completed my first half marathon in June 2014. Even now, I am back to running; it’s my therapy, my "time out.” 

I am much more active. I've incorporated line-dancing into my life—I'll do anything that keeps my body moving.  

With regards to food, I consider myself a true "foodie," but I make better choices about what I eat. I mostly eat fresh, organic foods and definitely nothing processed.

What advice or information would you pass along to someone recently diagnosed with cancer?

For anyone who has been recently diagnosed with cancer, I say: it’s a traumatic event, to say the least, BUT you will and you can get through it. You have to believe that in your heart, mind, and spirit. Everyone's journey is different, but you can be victorious. Stay positive and focused. More importantly, find your spiritual guide and lean on it.

Updated December 29, 2017

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