This post was originally featured on the LBBC Blog on February 9th, 2011. Here, LBBC volunteer Sarita Jordan shares how she found strength and purpose through C4YW, even through some extraordinary circumstances.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September of 2005. I was 36 years old. Breast cancer was an event in my life that I had no idea was coming. I didn’t have history in my family. I knew nothing about the disease. I was aware of monthly self-breast exams, but that’s about it. When I was first diagnosed, I was told “it probably isn’t breast cancer because of your age.” I am currently a 5-year breast cancer survivor, and counting…
After such an ordeal, it had become apparent that I wanted to dedicate my life to helping other women cope with a breast cancer diagnosis and all the unpleasant episodes that come along with it. When I was in treatment I looked for any and every kind of help because I didn’t really have a strong support system. I developed a relationship with the oncology social worker at my hospital. I later learned about Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) and the Conference For Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer (C4YW) — finally, a venue where I could express age-appropriate concerns. Because I was 36 at the time, this was great!
As a result of the effort to make it to my first conference in 2007, every year I look forward to this event and the source of help available to me. I will never forget the first conference that was held in Arlington,VA. I am a parent of 4 children, one of which I became pregnant with after breast cancer treatment.
Pregnant, bald and excited, I drove in a snow storm because I was determined to be at this conference. The conference in Jacksonville, Fl., had a workshop about fertility issues that young women affected by breast cancer face. The wonderful speaker described her diagnosis at a young age and how she considered maximizing her chances of future pregnancy, knowing the risk breast cancer treatment had on the ability to conceive. Although my story was slightly different from hers, I was able to offer my experience, which was a sense of hope to some of the other women that were present in this particular workshop.
Attending C4YW keeps me up-to-date with the latest treatments, workplace protocol and rights, medical research, healthcare reform news, etc. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I look forward to meeting up with friends that I met from other states over the last 5 years since I’ve been attending the conference. More importantly, though, I look forward to volunteering and sharing my story, in the hopes that it would encourage someone else. Last but not least, the group photo! The photo is especially important to me because as we all gather — all races, creeds and colors — I am reminded that I am not alone.
Although there are some friends that I have lost to this disease, I don’t get discouraged. This too reminds me that life is precious and we have to just live, love and laugh. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone.
Thanks LBBC and YSC for such an event. This experience compares to no other.
This year’s Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer (C4YW) is being held Friday, February 22 – Sunday, February 24, 2013 in Seattle. If you, like Sarita, are looking for a network of women who share your similar concerns as a young women affected by breast cancer, C4YW may be a good place to start.