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              in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, in the United States [1]. I was shocked when I discovered this statistic. That seems like such an intimate number, when I never seriously took breast cancer as a risk for myself. Not only is it an intimate number, but every minute, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from breast cancer. That’s more than 1,400 women every day [2]. That is several, by the time you are done reading this blog. But, even though the fatality is high, today, there are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the US, which makes it the largest group of all cancer survivors [3]. I asked one of the survivors to share her experience, and insight through her journey. 

 


This is Ashley.

 

She is currently 27 years old. 

She works at her local church.

Her position at the church is Youth Administrative and Creative Arts Associate. She also helps with worship from time to time, with her newlywed husband.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




               "I was diagnosed in January of 2016 with stage 2, grade 3 Invasive Carcinoma Breast Cancer.

I noticed a lump in my breast in October of 2015 and assumed it was a cyst or caused by my workout routine. In November of 2015, I recognized that the lump had gotten larger, my energy had been lower, and I wasn't able to keep my weight on.

Because of some insurance issues, I wasn't able to go in until January 4, 2016 for my first appointment.

Things proceeded pretty quickly and after a series of tests, I was diagnosed on January 15, 2016."

 

 

 

               "Because I didn't think it was a big deal (or would be anything greater than a cyst), I didn't tell anyone about my doctor appointments.

My brother called me in early January and had said he felt like something was wrong, so I opened up to him about my appointments.

When my doctor called and wanted to meet in person to deliver my diagnosis, I recognized that I needed to fill my family in on my recent discovery.

I called my family and let them know, and understandably, they were furious that I didn't fill them in sooner.

Once I received my diagnosis, I called my parents and older brother who were out of state, and stopped in at the work place of my younger brother. That weekend, I made a list of everyone that I needed to tell before we made the news "public" through the social media world.

I called 42 people that day.


The list included family members, friends from college, friends from church, and leadership that had impacted me.                                                                                                                                                    That weekend, I met with my church staff and told them. We decided to tell the church the next day to start having people pray. We announced to our church on Sunday and told the social media world after that."

 

 


               "Shock. I began each conversation with,

'There's not really a good way to put this. I just wanted to tell you before it went public...'

Most people expected me to say I was
1.) pregnant out of wedlock (LOL) or
2.) leaving my position at the church.

Once I explained what was going on, I concluded by saying that this didn't change how I wanted people to treat me. I wanted people to continue treating me normal, not as the cancer patient.

For the vast majority, people responded well.


My family, on the other hand, made me feel weak at times. I don't think my parents knew how to process "their baby girl being sick." My mom would call me multiple times a day and tell me what I could and couldn't do. It put quite a strain on our relationship because I wanted normalcy, but she wanted me to slow down and "accept" my diagnosis."

 


               "I looked at my "public standing" as an opportunity to impact. I could choose an attitude of joy or I could choose an attitude or anger and frustration. Either way, I would walk through the process.

"Your life and it's surroundings are a direct reflection of your own attitude."


I lived by this statement! It was really incredible to see the people that I got to meet and encourage / be encouraged by through the process. I had so much support - emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially.

It was really incredible.

For it being a difficult season, I felt so blessed and loved."

 

 



               "I think people are so scared to ask questions. I feel like a lot of cancer patients are pitied in the process.

I love having opportunities to share my story and how it impacted me FOR GOOD. It was such a growing season for me!

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Know your audience. I love when people joke with me about it. It makes me feel normal! I like when people ask questions that may seem uncomfortable to ask!"


               "Jesus. He was my source! I spent so much time in the Word of God. I wanted to have the Bible written on my heart. The days that were tough were combatted with scripture.                                                                                                                                                                                       I also turned to worship and my church family.                                                                                                                            Again, I was reminded daily of the quote I said earlier! 'Your life and it's surroundings are a direct reflection of your own attitude.' "

 


               "Yes. However, I was really blessed with an opportunity to try out the Cold Cap. The Cold Cap is a cap filled with dry ice that goes on before, during, and after your chemo infusions.

I lost 25% of my hair, but to the public, it wasn't as noticeable. If you knew me well or spent a lot of time with me, it was probably more recognizable!

I lost some of my eyebrows as well. I used Latisse on my lashes and they looked SO GOOD through the whole process. That was a cancer perk! Lol!

Losing hair will always be one of, if not the most difficult thing for women who are going through chemo. I remember washing my hair and losing GLOBS of hair and thinking the world was ending.

It was really devastating, but I know it could've been much worse. Cold Cap Therapy was incredible!"

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         "It's a season. Some days will be more difficult than others.                                                                                                                           Find a community of people who will make you feel normal and GOOD.



 

 

Find time to be active and do something that makes you feel good. I loved being able to work out and feeling strong in a season that I was considered "weak."

Seek Jesus and turn to the Word of God when you're struggling."




 

 

 

 

 

 

 has been cancer free for three years now! She  has become even more involved in her church, and has found the love of her life. She is living a full life with her friends and family by her side. 

 

 

 

           I hope you have been inspired! Breast cancer is a rigorous fight, and my heart goes out to the families who are missing their loved one because of this battle. October is breast cancer awareness month, and I pray that you take time to encourage someone in your life that is fighting the battle, or take time for yourself if you are currently walking through this. 

 

Have a wonderful week Ladies!
Resources:

[1]  “U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.” Breastcancer.org 

[2]  "Breast Cancer Fact Sheet." Susan G. Komen

[3]  “Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Statistics, 2019.”  American Cancer Society

 




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  • Christine Ritchey on

    I LOVE Ashley’s story! It is so much like my own! Thank you so much for posting the WHOLE story…ie that Jesus is the sustain-er and comforter in such a journey. I was diagnosed in August of 2015 and completed treatment in August of 2016. So in January I will be 4 years out from being pronounced cancer free. I used the cryo-therapy on my hands and feet and do not have any nueropathy, but I did not use it on my head, and unfortunately I’m in the “less than 1%” of people whose hair does not come back. Thus the reason you get my business! :) God has been sooo good to me and I am so thankful for modern medicine and God working together to let me live. :) God bless Ashley and give her a long life to proclaim His goodness to all in her sphere of influence.

  • Dr Diana Schultz on

    What an inspiring story. God bless you being cancer free for 3 years. You have not only inspired me but so many other people. Thank you for your beautiful inspiring story.


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