In her Own Words: I was diagnosed with stage lllb breast cancer when I was 36 years old and pregnant; terrified that I wouldn’t live long enough to deliver, or to still be a mom to my 3 tiny daughters. My husband and I were quite fortunate to be introduced to a brilliant oncologist who knew how to treat pregnant cancer patients…and he saved us. We went through chemo during the whole pregnancy, and then had a strong, healthy, handsome little baby boy at the end. I’ve had a recurrence since then, but it has been fuel to my fire. I speak globally to medical groups, pharma communities, corporations and any group who needs to learn about hope during challenges.
My Cancer Family: What would you tell others who are just diagnosed, or in the midst of cancer journey?
Heidi: Oh, learn to ask for help. You’ve done nothing to deserve this diagnosis, and you shouldn’t have to walk this path alone. When people say ‘please let me know if there is anything I can do to help’ – they mean it! Share some ideas about things that might make your life at this time easier (walk your dog, clean your stove, take your kids to the movies, get groceries, etc.)
My Cancer Family: How would you best support others going forward?
Heidi: If you are in a good place emotionally, then consider being support for a new patient, a caregiver, or a co-worker of someone who has just received a diagnosis. It’s often so frustrating when you have no one to talk to about your experience, someone who has already walked in your shoes. What did you take in your bag when you went to chemo? What foods did you eat, what exercises did you do? These could all be valuable pieces of information for the next one to sit in the chair.
My Cancer Family: Any cancer hacks or tips?
Heidi: There will always be things that cause you stress, but try to find a way every day to find one good small thing to celebrate. It can be as simple as a tiny flower on your walk, a bird at the window, or a cute dog in the crosswalk in front of your car. Now is the time to applaude the tiny things, and take tie to find them. Go to see your dentist, your religious leader and your hairdresser before you start chemo (you might not be able to for awhile) Don’t stop exercising, if you can…even if its only 5 minutes a day. Remember that you are not alone.