I Found Gratitude in Each Stage of My Story

On February 8th 2011, with my husband by my side, I went to meet my surgeon for the first time. My mammogram films were already hanging up and we could all clearly see the mass in my right breast. The surgeon got right to the point. “See the white dots?  That’s cancer.”  My husband and I must have looked like 2 deer caught in the headlights! As fast as he told me I had cancer, he also began to outline his plan. He made me feel confident, both in the plan and in my future.  Although the diagnosis was not good, Dr. Novak would see me through.
I was 48 years old, with three kids.  I had had an enjoyable career in banking and customer service. Nothing prepared me for what was to come – no family history, no personal experience. It was a big surprise.
On March 17th 2011, (GO IRISH!)  I underwent a unilateral mastectomy.  Chemo and radiation were recommended because cancer was also found in my lymph nodes during surgery.  I was so blessed, Dr. Novak recommended my entire team of Doctors, (the very best in Sarasota County), and they guided me through treatment and reconstruction.
I have completed chemo, radiation and all the reconstruction necessary. I celebrated 3 years cancer-free this past February.  I attribute my success to my outstanding family and the strong support of my medical team. Today I am happy, healthy and confident.
Breast cancer has been a challenge as well as a blessing in my life. I found gratitude during each stage of my story. I have always loved family, friends and now our community is also like family.
During my treatment, I began to see needs in the community. I met patients that could not pay for screening, treatment, or reconstruction.  I wanted to be an advocate and find ways to help out in the local community.  To this end, I fundraise with my husband and direct the funds to local breast cancer centers.
My current role is as the secretary for Breast Health Sarasota, Inc. We provide funding for mammograms, breast ultrasounds, breast biopsies and other breast health services for women from Sarasota County who qualify under our guidelines. Our goal is to see that no woman is without access to breast health services, and I personally will work very hard on their behalf.
I am very proud to tell my story and am very inspired by all the stories I have read and heard. We are a strong bunch, I am sure you will all agree. I am thrilled to be a survivor, but find my greatest happiness comes from paying it forward and helping the newly diagnosed
By Barbara Genneken

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