I'm sorry I skipped a week! And that I'm late for this week! (I didn't think it would be missed, but I found a few of you do read my posts regularly! My apologies and sincere thanks for being a reader. These ladies (and gents) have great stories that deserve to be heard.)
So, to make it up to you, I have a great interview for you! :D
Today we are hearing from Margaret Roberts, a first time walker, participating in the San Francisco walk. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39, and was diagnosed with a recurrence last year, at age 44. She is an inspirational woman, with a fighting spirit.
Question 1: What is your connection to breast cancer?
This will be the first time that I have shared my story from the depths of my heart. I was only 39 years old, a single parent of a teenager and had been overweight my entire life. I previously had several lumps in my breasts, yes that is plural, that were nothing. But when I felt this lump, I knew right away it was different. Let me say that I am a very stubborn woman and determined not to be a bother or burden to others. So I went to the doctor alone and not really telling anybody what I was going for. I went immediately from the doctor’s office to radiology to have a mammogram and two days later a biopsy, again by myself. The results came in the day before I was to leave for a conference in Yosemite. The surgeon wanted to remove the cancer right away but I told him it would have to wait because I had some training to attend. So off I went without telling a single family member.
My parents had been planning a cross-country trip for probably 5 years when I was diagnosed and the trip was only weeks away. My family is very close and I knew that if I told even one family member they would tell my parents and they would cancel their trip. So I decided to keep it to myself. I did share with my sisters (I have 3) and finally my parents when they were half way across the states. They wanted to come home right away and I assured them I was fine and to continue on their trip. They called me every day without fail. At the time of my battle, I lived in a very small community and it did not take long for people to find out. My church family started showing up with meals.
I still went to my treatments alone. I took public transportation and I am not going to lie - it was the hardest and most difficult time of my life! I did not want my daughter (who I had not shared how really were) to worry about me. She and I are very close and she needed to concentrate on on school. With the initial surgery they missed a bit and I had to have a second surgery and my parents could hear something was wrong and I finally broke down and told them everything. They were home from Pennsylvania in 3 days!
Q2: What would you say to someone fighting cancer and keeping it all inside and to themselves?
DON'T! Family and friends are a tremendous support system that want to be there for us. Let them help during a time when you need it the most. I hurt family and friends by not letting them in and allowing them to help me. Reach out to those who love you, they will feel your love as much as you will feel theirs.
And from Margaret's 3day personal page:
What I realized and why I share my story is that nobody, and I do mean nobody, deserves to have breast cancer. It has really taken me most of these years to come to that realization. For you out there that are being diagnosed, don’t go through any of the procedures or treatments without those who love you. In the end they are the support you need, they will give you hope when you feel there is none; they will give you a hug when you need it most and they ultimately love you unconditionally. Family and friends would have made a drastic difference if I would have let them in from the beginning. Let them in and share with them how you are feeling. They may not understand but they will be there to listen.
Q3: Why did you join the 3 day?
I joined the 3Day with the hopes that the experience will help me to heal. I still struggle over the recurrence daily and at times find it hard to even get out of bed and function. I have made the choice to “take charge” of my healing and I am hoping to gain support from others. I also hope that along the walk that I can in some way help others by sharing my experiences. I want to reach out to people as I have had people reach out to me.
Q4: Any fundraising advice you can pass on?
Reach out to everybody you know, business and personal. I sent emails to vendors that I work with, everybody in my business contacts list from work and my personal address book. I sent out close to 600 emails. Even if they give $10 - it is just that ten dollars. Some of the vendors personally donated and the amounts amazed me; they were some of my biggest donations.
Thank you, Margaret, for opening up to us. Now, I expect to see a few comments down below, as you throw your support and words of encouragement to Margaret. She knows the walk may be difficult, but she is taking it head on. Let her know how great she is doing -- and make sure to cheer her on in San Fran!