Updated: Jul 6
Wendi was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2007. She successfully addressed it with conventional treatments alongside lifestyle changes and has been cancer-free for 10 years. She is a strong and resilient woman who looked fear in the face and chose hope.
In July 2007, Wendi felt a lump in her left breast. She didn’t think much of it, because she had a history of fibrous cysts, so she was stunned a few weeks later to learn that the lump was a cancerous tumor - 2cm, stage 2 DCIM (ductal carcinoma in situ). Wendi, with the support of her husband, chose to treat the cancer with excision and chemotherapy. During the mastectomy, 30 of Wendi’s lymph nodes were also removed. Upon further testing, Wendi was happy to learn the cancer had not spread. In October, Wendi began 18 weeks (6 rounds) of chemotherapy. She suffered the standard side effects, including hair loss and low-grade nausea. Following the chemotherapy and six breast reconstruction surgeries, Wendi’s conventional treatments were considered done with the exception of ongoing periodic check-ups to ensure the cancer had not returned.
From the very beginning of her cancer diagnosis Wendi did not feel fear. Instead, her initial reaction was disbelief. She had an 8-year old son and a husband, so before she even talked to an oncologist she made up her mind to fully heal. Period. As she says, “If I had to stand on my head five days a week, I was going to… because I had this little boy to live for.” She attributes her strong hope and lack of fear to:
Wendi immediately shared the news of her cancer diagnosis with her family, friends and co-workers rather than keeping it a secret. As a result, she was able to rely on the support of family, friends and colleagues. She continued working throughout her treatments, so was surrounded by friends and family all day, everyday. She also joined a cancer support group, because it was important to speak with people who could relate to her experience.
While a lot of people around her were worried, Wendi lightened the mood with humor and levity. She said laughter was a constant through most of her cancer experience, as it came naturally and helped her to stay positive.
Faith in God
While Wendi always believed in God, her faith became even stronger with cancer. She does not believe her cancer was God’s fault, but rather the fault of the environment, the food she ate and the exercise she didn’t do. God cared for her by putting certain people in her life – friends, her angels on earth as calls them, who were there for her no matter what the outcome. Their constant presence reminded her of God’s love and helped her remain positive and hopeful.
Mind Over Matter
Cancer became Wendi’s first true experience in mind over matter. She says she maintained hope by choosing to not think about the alternative. She feels if she allowed herself to succumb to fear, the outcome would have been much different - as fear negatively impacts our minds and bodies. At the end of the day, she wasn’t going to spend all the money, time and effort on conventional cancer treatments only to let fear ruin the outcome. Instead, she chose hope and continues with that mindset to this day.
The end of Wendi’s conventional cancer treatments was not the end of her story. After the treatments ended, Wendi realized that the cause of her cancer was never addressed so she began contemplating how to address the root of the problem and avoid its recurrence. In retrospect, she believes she had cancer due to a number of factors, including stress and an unhealthy lifestyle. She didn’t beat herself up about it, because she couldn’t change the past, but thought deeply about the changes she could make in her life to become fully healthy. These changes didn’t happen overnight, but rather have been a slow process of trial and error.
Soon after finishing her cancer treatments, Wendi began changing her diet based on research she did herself. Some changes have stuck, some haven't, but she is well aware of the importance diet and nutrition play in her overall health. As of right now, she has mostly given up gluten and sugar – in all its forms.
When she was laid off from a stressful job at a large corporation, Wendi decided to become a financial planner rather than returning to another large company. While she still feels the stress and pressure of building her own client list, she has more control and is better able to manage her day-to-day stress than when working in the corporate world.
While Wendi feels that these changes have helped her, she also knows there is more work to do. Almost 10 years after being diagnosed with cancer, she was diagnosed with diabetes in February 2017. So her next personal goal is to continue improving her health and reverse her diabetes. She is doing this by (i) being stricter about the aforementioned dietary changes, (ii) finding a healthy work life balance and (iii) minimizing daily stress so that it does not dictate her food choices or become an excuse for not exercising.
While cancer is so often seen as a negative experience, in Wendi’s case, cancer has given her many gifts, including hope, faith, and dietary and career changes to improve her overall health and wellbeing. These are changes she may not have made without cancer.
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