Dr. Valeria Breiten
I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. As a naturopathic doctor, I chose to treat my cancer by combining chemotherapy and naturopathic treatments. When I completed therapy, I realized I had been neglecting my long-term dreams and decided to make them reality.
First, I satisfied my craving for a lengthy European experience by traveling for six months. I visited sustainable and eco communities, took classes and made several new friends along the way.
Second, I moved back to Ashland! I left Ashland in 1997 and have wanted to return for several years. I am excited to create a new, post breast cancer life here in Ashland.
The day before my knee replacement surgery was scheduled I found out I had breast cancer. Discussion with my doctors helped me decide to have my knee surgery first.
After my lumpectomy, I had 38 radiation treatments. My life was scheduled around treatments from February until April. Once radiation treatments ended it took months for me to adjust to "normal" life again. The biggest change for me was to stop putting off the things I wanted to do until some other time.
I went to visit my sister in Mexico. I took more time to go hiking, and I started painting again. I read more books and spend more time with friends and family. The fears and tears spill over less often these days. I breathe deeper, smile more, and dare to look to the future.
In 1989 I was working with a medical facility that treated addicted teens. Our medical director insisted that all women employees have an annual mammogram before he would sign their employment contract (His wife was a breast cancer survivor.). When I had my mammogram, there was a suspicious spot on my breast. An immediate biopsy was done and suspicions were confirmed. Surgery to remove the tumor was scheduled for after Christmas, followed by seven weeks of radiation.
I was the first in my family to be diagnosed with breast cancer. During treatment, I joined a cancer support group. It was a wise choice since there were cancer patients of all ages and all types of cancer. We learned it was alright to have "pity parties," but they have to be time-limited. I learned I was not the only cancer patient in the world. There were many of us, some of whom were facing it alone. I had a family and a young son of 13. I endured because of my family. Soon the surgeon asked me to meet with newly diagnosed patients. I was honored to do it. I continued with this service for four years until I thought I was too far out from diagnosis to continue.
I learned that I was never a cancer victim but a patient. To this day, 28 years out, I feel called to share this experience with newly diagnosed patients and to welcome them to the club none of them ever wanted to join — the Cancer Survivors Club!
Kathie J. Lowrey
It comes without warning, with a fierce vengeance and no respecter of persons ... breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 65 years old, third generation. My grandmother died at 45 years old, my mother survived to 65 years old.
One of my doctors encouraged me to tell the women who had just been diagnosed with cancer my story. I began to tell my story to patients, doctors, nurses, office staff and women I worked with at my two jobs. I thank god we can have a success story.
Pray, listen to god, walk with him, and encourage those he brings into your life. I am thankful to god and to all the wonderful people who helped me along the way in my journey.
The breast cancer diagnosis was the ultimate alarm to urgently, deeply examine my life and step fully into my capacity to nourish my body and mind well in the ways that I live my everyday life. I dove deeply into research and know more than ever that all of life is learning, and each day is filled with opportunities to learn and grow. I’ve come to appreciate the amazing healing capacity within our bodies and the inestimable power of love and community in healing. Each day, each breath is a gift to fully live the life god has blessed me with … and I am thankful.
One phone call changed my life in an instant. The week following a routine mammogram last year, I was scheduled for a second image, then biopsy, and was ultimately diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn’t understand; I was physically fit and healthy — how could I have cancer? How would I tell my family the news?
While beginning my second year at RCC, I was facing a long road to recovery after surgery. Despite this roadblock, I was determined to continue with my educational goals by registering part-time. My diagnosis made me stronger, more determined and more aware to live each day to its fullest.
I am so very blessed to celebrate my six-year "cancerversary" by opening A Place of Friends Art Studio in Shady Cove. I discovered mixed-media art two years ago after a lengthy and arduous battle and focus much of my work on the joy of life itself. I am thrilled to return to my career of teaching by offering workshops for children and adults. Every day of good health is a gift.