By Sarah Thompson, SRM Physician Liaison
In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, SRM employee Sarah Thompson, has graciously shared her personal story of surviving breast cancer and finding her path by helping other young women through their journey with breast cancer.
For the last five years, the month of October and the color pink has had new meaning to me and my family. A week before our daughter turned two, I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer at the age of 39. After countless tests, scans and appointments with breast surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, we had my plan. I was going to undergo 16 rounds of chemotherapy, then bilateral mastectomy, and radiation.
At the time I was a Patient Care Coordinator at SRM, helping my patients through their infertility journey and the primary coordinator for our Fertility Preservation program. I had helped many men and women, including those just diagnosed with breast cancer quickly navigate the process of freezing their sperm or eggs prior to cancer treatment. I knew what my cancer diagnosis and treatment meant for my future fertility and was really proud of the oncologists that I consulted with when each of them recommended Fertility Preservation if we were considering having more children. Though we decided not to proceed with Fertility Preservation, I believe all young people faced with a cancer diagnosis should be aware of their options.
During treatment, I took the time needed to focus on treatment and recovery and when I came back I took my experience as a cancer patient to further support those who would find themselves in a similar situation. I learned that sharing my story to patients newly diagnosed with cancer provided them with hope. That at the end of their cancer journey they could find themselves sharing their story as a survivor as I have. That even though some haven’t started any treatment (cancer or fertility), there was light at the end of the tunnel. That even though we have been diagnosed with cancer, we are young and strong and that is what helps get us thought it. Hope of one day having a family.
I may not make those connections with patients in the clinic as a Physician Liaison but I continue to serve as a patient advocate and provide education to our oncology community. For SRM and as a State Leader for Young Survival Coalition (YSC). YSC is an organization for young women facing a breast cancer diagnosis.