In December 2022, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma.  I was emotional, afraid of what was to come and feeling unsure of my future as every person receiving this diagnosis no matter where it is in your body.  After a battery of testing over two weeks during the Christmas holidays, I had my lumpectomy in January, 2023. During February and March, 2023, I had 16 radiation treatments. My wife supported me every step of the way through surgery, post-surgery and radiation treatments.  After all the treatments were completed, I had time to reflect as to what happened.  After diagnosis, medical appointments, testing, surgery, treatments etc. which takes all your time and energy, there is no time to fully absorb the gravity of what you have been through and the changes psychological and physically you will go through as a result.  I am incredibly grateful for all the doctors, assistants and technical staff that cared for me during my diagnosis to the ringing of the bell after radiation treatments. It is mind-blowing seeing all the warriors on the oncology floor and radiation treatment area that persevere through this diagnosis.  Some of the warriors will smile at you and even sometimes give you a high five. It is part of the journey I didn’t expect.  There is up and downs emotionally and am grateful for my wife’s understanding through it all.  I don’t believe a cancer survivor will fully be “done” with the this journey nor do I recommend it. My post-diagnosis life is very different from my pre-diagnosis life but how could it not be.  I am on a plant based diet, I volunteer with the American Cancer Society and BRCAStrong.  I will be trained as a cancer coach soon as well. I don’t get upset at the little things like I did before. I am still here and I’m going to make every hour of each day count whether it is feeling the sun on my face and taking a few minutes to be grateful or doing a Nordic track session with my trainer who has survived lymphoma.  I’m incredibly grateful for every step of the way and continue to be.

Dawn Mehler