I am a college dean at a small private university in central PA. My days are spent listening to the stories of college students – their joys, their struggles, their hopes, and their aspirations. Getting cancer threw me for a loop. It was not on my calendar or in my life plan. Rather, it was something that redirected many of my plans. My main goal was to live and to live for a long time. I told my oncologist that I had to live at least another 55 years. He quickly commented, “Okay, at least now I know what I am dealing with!” He also shared that sometimes getting cancer was a wake up call for people. I asked that he note in my chart that I already had goals and did not need cancer to get re-focused.
I share my story because cancer found me when I least expected it. I was living a very healthy life, had no family history and had no symptoms. For those who love you, your family, your friends, and most importantly for yourself, please take charge of your health. Once I was diagnosed, many women, young and old, offered their stories of never completing a self check or getting a mammogram. It was then that I knew I had to do something to educate others. Early detection is critical and can save your life. It did mine.