Today, we’re honored and grateful to tell the story of Julie Wipff, a 56-year-old breast cancer survivor. This was the first time since her diagnosis that she had written about it, and we are very grateful to be able to tell a little bit of her story.
“Being a survivor means I’ve been given the chance to appreciate more in my life. I’ve found that I react differently to situations as a survivor and some priorities have shifted. It also means I can give support to those going through cancer and have a very real idea of what they might be experiencing mentally or physically. I started treatment in 2020 so at the time I wished I’d had more access to my family. Treatments, appointments and ringing the bell were done alone. Thank goodness for Facetime and video!”
“I don’t think I was prepared for the mental anguish and the large amount of fear I felt after being diagnosed. Several years earlier, I lost a brother, my only sibling to cancer and all I thought about was how he must have felt and that no one in the world knows the feeling unless you are given a cancer diagnosis. Was I there for him? Was I there for him in all the right ways? I had a sense of guilt for not truly knowing at the time what he had gone through.”
“After treatment the fear of recurrence for me was overwhelming. I spoke with a psychologist regularly during treatment and the first-year post treatment. It’s two-fold, the whole situation, you are seen regularly for something awful and then the treatments end and the visits wane with time and you are left on your own, no one is checking your vitals, bloodwork, and scans frequently and as much as I wanted it to be over and given that “you’re cancer-free” I was terrified I still had cancer or it was back because no one was continually monitoring my health or body.”
“I still think about cancer, but it isn’t all consuming like it was the first two years. Survivorship to me gives me the challenge to be a better human, and identify gratitude every day—even in the smallest of things. As a BRCA1 survivor, I am focused on educating myself and sharing that knowledge with both my daughters who also have the BRCA1 gene. Aside from working, spending time with people that I enjoy and doing things that bring me joy. Not stressing about the little stuff. This is the first time I’ve written about it and I found it kind of therapeutic.”
Thank you so very much, Julie, for sharing your story with our VivorCare community. We are so grateful you are here, and we are so grateful to hear your experience.