Meet a Breast Cancer Helpline Volunteer: Monica

Meet a Breast Cancer Helpline Volunteer: Monica
  1. Why did you decide to be a SHARE Breast Cancer Helpline volunteer?

When I was first diagnosed, I remember feeling completely overwhelmed and scared. Conversations with friends were not helpful. They were lovely and kind, but THEY couldn’t understand what I was going through. I had so many questions and was filled with anxiety. Eventually I met a woman in a support group who became a lifesaver for me. She understood and was a few steps ahead of me in treatment, and I did not feel alone. That was the biggest relief, to no longer feel alone. When I heard about SHARE and the services they provide, I knew that I wanted to be that person for someone else dealing with breast cancer and be with them throughout the days of treatment and surgery that lay ahead of them.

  1. What do you like most about being a Helpline volunteer?

It feels good to be able to help someone during a difficult moment. I know what it’s like when your life comes to a halt, and you have to dive deep into a world of medical terms and choices. It can feel like a sort of nightmare, so I want to be there for callers to help sort through it.

  1. When were you diagnosed and what was your diagnosis?

I was diagnosed a few weeks before my 34rd birthday in 2010 with triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma stage 2B.

  1. Where are you now, as far as your breast cancer “journey?”

This coming September, I celebrate 10 years cancer free, and I hope to do something special. Maybe go somewhere where I can see the sky filled with stars.

  1. In addition to volunteering for SHARE, what else do you do? What do you (or did you) do for work?

I work in sales at the Garment District in NYC.

  1. What do you do for fun?

Yoga, cook meals for friends, go for long walks in the city (aka urban hikes), go to see dance performances, make art, meditate, read, listen to the radio while puttering around the house.

  1. What did you learn about yourself while going through your breast cancer experience?

I learned that I do NOT have a positive attitude and I am NOT an ideal patient.

  1. What priorities did you have before and after?

Hmmm…before breast cancer, I was focused on what I should do, and after I focused on what I want to do.

  1. Any other insights that you want to share?

When I finished almost 6 months of treatment, surgery and recovery, I was walking down the street and not feeling nauseated from chemotherapy and not feeling in pain from surgery, and in that moment I felt strong and healthy. It felt incredible, almost nothing else mattered, all the worries, anxieties of life, difficulties at work, etc., felt completely inconsequential. Feeling well was something that I had taken for granted every single day before breast cancer. This helped put life in perspective for me. I think this lasted for a few years, but now I have to make a real effort to bring my head back into that moment and connect to this realization again.