Tina Marshall

If there is one thing I’ve learned from my experience with breast cancer…it’s that behind every cloud, there is a silver—oops, make that PINK lining.

To my pink sisters, and brothers that who, like me, fought the battle to save not only their breast(s) but also their lives, and won…I applaud your bravery and persistence. I lost a breast but came out with my life and sense of humor intact. Lord knows, there were days when I just wanted to stop the chemo, glue the hair that I watched clog up my drain back onto my balding head and go to sleep. A sleep that would last until the cancer was gone, or ‘til I was just a lovely memory for my grieving family. Thankfully, those days were few! Between my husband, my mother and my sister, I was lucky to get even a minute to wallow in that self-pity although I admit that I became quite spoiled from all of the extra attention.

To the many friends and chemo buddies that I met along the way and who lost their fight in the end, you remain part of my life forever. From Dena, I learned to think positive and embrace life and from Sharon and the Steel Magnolias group, I found encouragement and a spiritual peace.

To those of you who are newly diagnosed, take comfort in knowing that there are skilled and compassionate medical experts waiting to cure you. Yes, cure you. I am cured as are thousands that have fought and won the battle. Arm yourself with knowledge because with knowledge comes power. Ask questions, and make sure that you understand what is going on with your treatment and with your body every step of the way. Reach out to survivor’s groups and I promise you will meet some of the most upbeat and compassionate people you could ever hope for. If I asked Melba, Kathi or Bonnie who were part of my support group “when I would get back to normal” once I asked a thousand times! They understood. They had been there.

So, chin up and I say that with love and admiration because every person that overcomes breast cancer is a hero to someone that is newly diagnosed. You may need reassurance today, but tomorrow you will be the survivor and the one that is looked to for encouragement. For me, it’s been 17 years since my diagnosis at age 39. It’s been a spiritual journey for me and I’m thankful to many people but mostly to my husband Ken who remains my biggest cheerleader and partner in LIFE.