Breast cancer survivor, Bev ShongOn Jan. 2, 2006, while taking a relaxing bath after the holidays I discovered a little thing in my left breast. I had always wondered if I’d really be able to detect a lump during my monthly self breast exam. The answer to that question became quite clear. I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer on Friday, January 13. Good thing I’m not superstitious.

My mind began to whirl with fear, anxiety and uncertainty about my future. It was then that numerous angels, many of them breast cancer survivors, came forward to do little things that comforted and encouraged me. There was a woman who had recently completed her treatments who met with me and provided an empathetic ear; the stranger who opened up her home so I had a place to rest between my radiation treatments; the co-workers who were there for me every day providing encouragement and the many people who sent cards and offered prayers.

My treatment at Gundersen included a lumpectomy, radiation by MammoSite and four rounds of chemotherapy. The Norma J. Vinger Center for Breast Cancer is a beautiful facility. It was great to have all my appointments and procedures performed in one place by a dedicated and specialized team of professionals. All of my caregivers treated me as a unique individual who they truly cared about. My questions and concerns were welcomed and addressed at any time of the day. The doctors and staff were knowledgeable and compassionate; they eased my fears and gave me hope. I knew I was in the right place, receiving care that was second to none.

In a few months, I will be a four-year survivor. In many ways, I can look back at my cancer experience as a positive event in my life. I am thankful for the new people I have met and the friendships which were strengthened as I was showered with “little” acts of kindness. I also discovered that the little things I fretted over and worried about were no longer important and yet it was the little things that became most precious. The love of family and friends, simple prayers, special moments with my daughters, my husband’s humor, the awesome taste of my favorite foods, a beautiful sunset, the twinkling stars, a full moon that lights up the night sky, watching fireflies on a warm summer night, the feel of the sun on my face, a gentle breeze, the first smell of Spring, the pitter patter of raindrops, birds singing outside my bedroom window, colorful fall leaves and glistening snowflakes. Everything that God has created.

Little things gave me hope and filled my world with peace. The whole journey has been bitter-sweet but I am a different person today because of what I went through. I am so grateful to all the women who were diagnosed before me and paved the way. I am a survivor. LIFE IS GOOD!

Bev Shong

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