Martha’s Story

Categories: Blog

A beautiful journey, orchestrated by the BCRC

This blog post was contributed by Martha O., a member of our Breast Cancer Resource Center.

Twenty years ago, I heard the words no woman wants to hear: you have breast cancer. And while 20 years has provided distance and space, my memories of that time in my life remain incredibly clear. My breast cancer diagnoses came on the heels of so many other life changes I was experiencing. I was approaching my mid-50s and at the onset of menopause. I was an empty-nester, with my two children finishing college and ready to sprout their wings in the world. I was also recently divorced. To say it was a time of great upheaval would be an understatement; I knew it was up to me to shape my new life. What I hadn’t anticipated in my next chapter was my diagnosis. That I am here today I credit a few crucial things:

  1. I never missed an annual mammogram. Self-exams never made sense to me because my breasts always felt lumpy and often sore. Mammograms were painful but critical. I wasn’t shocked when the radiologist needed a close-up of my breast, but I was sad and anxious when hearing my diagnosis.
  2. Pure luck. I was very lucky my cancer was discovered at an early stage. I was also lucky it was not an aggressive form of the disease. My brilliant, darling friend Meg was not as lucky; she had skipped her mammograms for 2 years, and when she finally got one at my urging, her cancer diagnosis was more advanced. 

My own experience with cancer included 3 surgeries and weeks of radiation that seemed like an eternity. It wasn’t until after that Meg led me to the the YWCA Princeton’s BCRC—another moment of pure luck for which I am thankful. Together, we embarked on a beautiful journey orchestrated by the BCRC and the many incredible programs they provided. It was here that I made lifelong friendships through the many incredible programs we participated in: art and journaling, cooking (and eating!), exercising, counseling, and countless other experiences I have come to treasure deeply.

This brings me to #3. I asked for help. Walk through those doors to the BCRC, and sign up for a program–any program. Explore the possibilities. Don’t be shy in asking for help. Everyone needs help at different points in our lives.

I love the BCRC because they meet you where you are in your breast cancer journey, whether you were diagnosed 2 weeks or 20 years ago. They make this journey a little less lonely and a lot more hopeful. I am grateful for those moments of joy and comfort the BCRC has made possible. Please consider making a gift to the BCRC today to ensure that women like you and like me continue to have access to such a critical lifeline of community and care.