Diane Jones - A three-time breast cancer survivor
There is a life after a diagnosis of breast cancer!
I am a 25-year breast cancer survivor proving that there are new experiences, gifts and accomplishments still waiting for you!
Breast cancer survivors are doing incredible things. They are climbing mountains, running marathons, writing books, painting, running their first ever 5K in the Women’s Only 5K Walk & Run – doing things they never thought they could. They are out there sharing messages of hope and inspiring others.
I have heard the words “you have breast cancer” three times. The first time I heard those words was in 1986 when I was just 33 years old (OK, so now you know how old I am). In 1986, no one talked about breast cancer – they whispered. There were very few resources. My treatment was a bit unconventional for the times – I had a lumpectomy and radiation therapy. I was single at the time, and I can tell you, these were very scary days for me – but I stayed strong.
In 1988, during a follow-up mammogram more cancer cells were found. I was told “you have breast cancer” once again. The mammogram detected the cells, and surgery followed.
All seemed well, until the day in June 1995, while performing my monthly breast self-exam (which I tried to follow faithfully – but slacked like some of us tend to do) – I discovered a lump in the same breast. After the biopsy and hearing those words again - “You have breast cancer” – I sought out a second opinion and chose to go with a comprehensive cancer center in Richmond, VA (where I was living and where I grew up). A mastectomy, chemotherapy and five years of Tamoxifen was my plan – and with the help of friends and family, I got through it all. They gave me strength, hope, love and the courage to fight.
My journey with breast cancer has opened many doors for me. So many special people have come into my life; opportunities and experiences have allowed me to grow and use this challenge to reach out and help others. I’m doing things I never thought I would do! These include invitations to the White House (yes THE White House); being the Survivor Winner five years in a row in the Susan G. Komen Richmond Race for the Cure; public speaking – sharing my story; completing several Sprint Triathlons- competing in my first Sprint at age 51. The list can go on and on!
Since moving to Greensboro four years ago, the Women’s Only 5K has been just one more door opened to me. I have been involved with this wonderful community event every year since moving here. I have been a coach, helping train women who had never run before run their first ever 5K. Through Janes on the Run, I have been a course monitor, and this year I am assisting with the Girls’ Only event. Not only does this event celebrate survivors, we remember those who lost their fight with breast cancer. The event reminds us all of the importance of early detection. And, this event raises funds to pay for mammograms for women who might not otherwise be able to afford one.
Since my first diagnosis in 1986, we have come a long way in the areas of new treatments, medical advances and in raising awareness. But we still have a long way to go – we have more work to do. And, thanks to the Women’s Only 5K - we are still pressing ahead and making a difference!
My messages are: Encourage everyone you know to get their mammogram, schedule that doctor’s appointment and do their monthly self-exam. Continue a healthy lifestyle. Walk, run, be active. Feed your spiritual self. Eat healthy. Being healthy, proactive and taking care of yourself will help you, should you ever face any type of diagnosis. Not only will you be in good physical condition to fight the challenge ahead – you will also be mentally prepared with a spirit to fight.
And remember: There is a life after a diagnosis of breast cancer!