Maria Doyle

Age: 72
Profession: Retired Cosmetologist
Type of Breast Cancer: Breast Cancer
Year of Diagnosis: 2006
Number of years as a survivor: 12
Relationship to Susan G Komen: Race participant

In October 2006, I went in for my annual mammogram. I didn’t feel anything abnormal, but soon after the exam, I received a call from my doctor to come in urgently. The doctor explained that the exam detected a mass, and I was quickly rushed into a biopsy. The next few days were a blur, the memories are jumbled in my mind, but I still remember the pain of hearing that I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I had a difficult time balancing the diagnosis and what I considered my normal life. As a single mom, I was accustomed to being independent, and the only parent my son has. During the initial stages of my diagnosis, I felt anxious because of the doctor that was treating me. I felt like his cold demeanor was bullying me to make a decision that I wasn’t ready for. My son recommended I look for a second opinion, and he helped me make an appointment at Baptist. My new doctor helped me feel supported entirely. On February 14, 2007, I was scheduled for surgery, but due to the rising concern about metastasis, my doctor suggested I have both breasts removed. I agreed, and I underwent the procedure in April. In total, I have had 4 painful reconstructive surgeries, but did not chose to have my nipples reconstructed. I don’t need to make any changes to my body to feel like myself, I am who I need to be!

During my treatment, the hardest times were when I lost my job and my home. For many years, I worked to keep a roof over my only son’s head and fought for the American Dream. Unfortunately, during my recovery, I injured my hand to the point I had to have 9 screws implanted. The surgery limited my mobility and kept me from being the cosmetologist I once was. My longtime clients were no longer satisfied with my work and stopped calling me. I was much more hurt by the fact that I couldn’t perform the craft I loved.

Due to my profession, I was a bit pretentious and always cared about how I looked. I had a hard time dealing with the changes in my physique; which took a toll on me emotionally and on my self-esteem. At my lowest point, I saw no other option but to give my disease to God and trust in what was best. I thank god for giving me the courage to fight this disease. Through the disease, I have become more positive. Each day and each moment we live is a lesson. The message I share is to not worry about the good or bad or what is lost but look for a reason to live. I am still looking for my purpose, but I know that it is not to suffer. The right moment will come, but until then, I enjoy the gift of life and share the happiness that I have.

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