Jean, a volunteer for the Survivors Helping Survivors
At the age of 45, with no family history, my breast cancer diagnosis was a shock. In addition, I was just beginning my second year of law school and was the mother of two young children (6 and 9). My treatment consisted of a mastectomy and temporary implant with a tissue expander, which was replaced by a permanent saline implant four months later.
What helped me cope during my survivor journey was the love and support of my family and friends. It was also very helpful to obtain as much information as possible about my diagnosis, to talk with many different people about what was happening to me, including many emotions I was experiencing. Knowing that my cancer had been diagnosed at an early stage and that my prognosis was excellent helped. Last but not least, my surgeon was wonderful and very supportive.
Being a breast cancer survivor has taught me that we never know what life will bring and it’s so important to realize that each day is a gift to be faced with gratitude for all that I have. Also, that I was able, with the help of others, to face and deal with a major medical crisis. I have learned to be very proactive in taking responsibility for my health.
I volunteer because it is wonderful being able to make this medical journey just a little bit easier for the imaging patients. It amazes me how courageous the women are and, even at a very difficult time, they share of themselves and show their appreciation. In addition, being a small part of the Hopkins Breast Center team is very gratifying to me, and I find the medical aspect of the procedures very interesting.
One piece of advice I would give to a newly diagnosed woman would be: Know that you are not alone during this journey and keep in mind that there is life beyond what is now a series of doctor’s visits, procedures, treatments, and pain. And focus on the emotional as well as the physical aspect of your diagnosis. Deal with all of the emotions you are experiencing, which will help with both physical and emotional healing.
More about Jean:
Since 1991, after graduating from the University of Baltimore School of Law, I worked as an attorney, first as law clerk to a Baltimore City Court Judge, then as an assistant solicitor in the Baltimore City Law Department, until retiring in January of 2008. My main interest has always been my wonderful family, my husband Ted, a State District Court Judge, my daughter Sasha, an attorney working in Baltimore and living in Federal Hill, and my son Ben, a pediatric resident at Children’s Hospital in Boston.
Both of my children have joined me in the fight against cancer. Ben, who plans a career as a pediatric oncologist, and Sasha, a board member of the Red Devils, an organization that helps breast cancer patients. And Jackie, my twin sister, is participating in the Sister Study being conducted by the National Institutes of Health. Ted and I enjoy visiting Boston and bed and breakfast inns throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Many times, these visits dovetail with my love of American history. This love led me to volunteer as a guide at Homewood Museum on the Johns Hopkins University campus, where I enjoy sharing my interest in history and meeting tourists not only from Baltimore, but from all over the world. Reading is also a passion – and I enjoy college basketball, cooking, gardening and exercise.