October is Breast Cancer awareness month and I am honored to be able to share the inspiring story of my dear friend, Rebekah Davis. Rebekah and I met and became inseparable in 2nd grade.
We literally chose the same sports, instruments, hobbies and spent most of our free time together - playing make-believe, creating and laughing. We were in the same class all the way through the 12th grade, sharing so many celebrations and milestones. Later we both got married and had 3 kids each.
Then there was the day Rebekah called me and told me she had found a lump in her breast and it was confirmed to be cancer. I remember the shock and the fear. We were only in our 30s. It hit home.
It has been 5 years since Rebekah's diagnoses and her journey has been one of courage and grace. When I asked her if she would mind sharing some of her story and wisdom, she was quick to agree.
***Friends, this is your loving reminder to do self checks.***Rebekah: In 2014, at the age of 35, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am a mother of 3 beautiful children whom I birthed and breastfed. At the time of diagnosis, my youngest baby was only 18 months old.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t find my lump while doing a breast exam. I simply found it while moving my seat belt. I made an appointment with my gynecologist who assumed it was probably nothing to be concerned about but decided to do an ultrasound and mammogram just to be sure. That led to a biopsy which unfortunately showed that I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.
I was shocked. I am a healthy, active person. I had none of the risk factors. I don’t smoke or drink, don’t eat red meat, eat lots of veggies, etc. They had me do genetic testing which all came back negative (however, I have now come to find out that it’s most likely genetic - but one that we haven’t found yet).
I studied my options and questioned my doctors and my husband and I came up with a plan that worked for our family. And on June 2, 2014, I had a bilateral mastectomy with a Latissimus Dorsi flap reconstruction. The entire reconstruction process took almost 2 years.
I’m currently 5 years into a 10 year course of tamoxifen (an estrogen inhibitor) and I have check ups every 6 months. I am lucky that I did not need chemotherapy or radiation.
Being able to say that I am a 5 year survivor is not something I take lightly. I am thankful everyday for the life I have been given.
Heather: After learning you had breast cancer, how did you manage the fear? Was there anything particularly helpful or comforting?
Rebekah: Right after my diagnosis I cried quite a bit. It was the fear of the unknown. I wasn’t sure how bad my cancer was, if it had spread, etc. I wanted to watch my children grow up. Once I was cancer free there was still a lot of worry and fear but I found that the farther out from my diagnosis, the little easier and better it got to not think about it everyday. I found that running helped a lot and I found myself starting to sign up for races and eventually worked my way up to half marathons......exercise has been my biggest form of stress relief. I’m a huge fan of Orange Theory 😉🤣. I have also become a huge advocate for self care. I feel like all women need to allow themselves some form of self care - whether it be exercise, massage, mani/pedis, or whatever brings them joy. It is so so important and so often overlooked.
Heather: How has this experience changed you?
Rebekah: I have been cancer free for 5 years now. I think what I have learned the most is that worry will steal away your joy, and all I can do is live my best life and the rest is out of my control. I didn’t cause my cancer and I can choose to either worry about it coming back or live my life to the fullest in hopes that it never does. I’m also more aware of what surrounds me. My diet is not perfect but I try really hard to eat a well balanced diet, I exercise, and have been more aware of what I put on my body also - lotions, makeup, etc.
Heather: What advice would you give to our readers?
Rebekah: Self checks are the key, especially for those under the age of 40. Know your body well and when something doesn’t seem right, go get it checked out. My cancer was found because I felt something.....it never really even showed up on a mammogram. Cancer doesn’t care what age you are. Even if you are young, do self checks. And of course, live your life to the fullest. Take care of the body you were given.
Heather: Are there any organizations that are close to your heart?
Rebekah: I’m a huge fan of The Breasties! They are an organization that gives support to those women going through breast cancer, are survivors, or even those who are pre-vivors (genetically positive for brca1 and brca2). It was started by ladies who were very young at the time they were diagnosed which is why I think it means more to me.....they have walked in my shoes during this same stage of life. I love finding local things that are going on to support breast cancer in your area also. I feel like local chapters help those in the community you are living life with everyday. Don’t get me wrong, research is so huge and so important.....but sometimes finding the people around you who are walking this journey and being able to help them out personally can also be so rewarding.
So, Rebekah, we are celebrating your five years cancer-free - and your best years to come!! We will be donating a portion of profits from all orders at zoeorganics.com, during the month of October, to The Breasties, in your honor. <3