Age: 38 1_Bethany Reeb-Sutherland
Profession: Assistant Professor at FIU
Type of Breast Cancer: Estrogen Receptor Positive/Luminal A
Number of Years as a Survivor: 1 year
Relationship to Susan G. Komen: Volunteer

On April 7, 2016, a little over 2 weeks after having my second child, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 ER+ breast cancer. This seemed almost impossible to me. At 37 years of age, not only was told that I “too young” to have breast cancer but I had no family history of breast cancer, or cancer of any type. To say that I was shocked by the news is a complete understatement. The first month after my diagnosis was the toughest – worrying about how I was going to take care of my newborn and his 3-year-old brother during treatment and whether I would be around for them in the years to come. But as I learned more about breast cancer and as I began my treatment, I started to change my perspective on the disease. I learned that although it is tough dealing with a cancer diagnosis, having this disease wasn’t a death sentence and that I can use my experience to live a better life for as long as I can – and I plan for that to be a very long time.

My family and friends were a huge help during my treatment which included 5 months of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and lymph node removal, and 29 rounds of radiation. My mom helped with the boys and housework, my husband went to all of my doctor and chemo appointments, my mother-in-law came from Ohio and stayed for several weeks, and my friends paid for housecleaning services. But I have to say that taking care of my two young boys was the biggest help and actually a blessing during my treatment. Not only did they provide me with the motivation to keep “fighting” breast cancer, but they also provided me with the mental reprieve that I needed to have some moments not to think about my cancer and to focus my thoughts and energy on something more positive and nothing is more positive than spending time with and caring for your family.

As of September 28, 2016, I am proud to say that I am cancer free! Having to take this journey with breast cancer at such an early age has taught me that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. In addition, I learned to change my perspective on life. Little things don’t bother me anymore. If I know I can’t change something, especially things that happened in the past, I don’t allow myself to ruminate on it. I take everything day by day and try to stop and enjoy little things that I used to take for granted – like living somewhere that I can wear shorts in the middle of winter. Although I would never want to have breast cancer and still think about its potential recurrence, I think the experience has changed my life for the better. I have complete faith that my life is exactly where it is supposed to be.