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We recently met with Liz, a breast cancer survivor that Pawsitively 4 Pink supported. Our conversation focused on her experience as a woman with breast cancer.

Liz is a 52-year-old woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago. Upon receiving the news of her diagnosis, she said she felt “stunned but not completely surprised.” Previously she had several cysts removed from her breast. Liz has stage 3b breast cancer. Stage 3 cancer means the breast cancer has extended beyond the immediate region of the tumor and may have invaded nearby lymph nodes and muscles. This stage of the disease is considered advanced. Sadly, Liz has had several recurrences, subsequently leading to frequent monitoring.

Liz reacted as many do with astonishment after hearing her diagnosis. She said that it took her time to digest her diagnosis. However, she found her family’s reaction more challenging. They were distraught, and their fear was overwhelming. They expressed their desire for Liz to get traditional treatment. Liz believes when people react out of fear, it can limit the choice and form of therapy desired. Families often want traditional medicine thinking this will save their loved one. However, voicing this can be limiting to the woman with breast cancer.

Liz elected traditional as well as alternative methods of healing. Having a series of operations as well as following a strict nutritional and supplemental diet. Her plan included the use of Ayurvedic medicine, a 3,000-year-old Indian healing system, the foundation of this system is a balance of the mind, body, and spirit, as well as Chinese medicine, including bodywork and acupuncture.

Many aspects of a woman’s life change with the words “you have breast cancer.” One of the most significant being the financial aspect. Liz is no exception. Being self-employed, Liz lost months of work at a time, and that meant a profound impact on her children and financial responsibilities. Fortunately, she applied and qualified for fuel assistance. Unfortunately, Liz was denied help from nonprofit organizations that are specific to breast cancer because she chose alternative treatment over chemotherapy or radiation. Compounding the issue, most insurance companies won’t pay for alternative medicine.

When turning our conversation towards Pawsitively 4 Pink and the impact the organization has had on Liz’s life; she says she heard about Pawsitively 4 Pink through an extraordinary friend. “P4P has allowed me the opportunity to pursue alternative treatments.” In the past, Liz was forced to choose between paying her bills or paying for alternative medicine. With Pawstively 4 Pink’s help, she can do both.

Recognizing that women who follow alternative and holistic treatment are not included in the statistical data collected about women with breast cancer, the prognosis for Liz is a challenge to forecast. However, Liz has a strong universal faith and a tenacity for life which keeps her feeling optimistic. Liz described the diagnosis of breast cancer as a teacher to her; she feels more grateful and appreciative for her “life” than ever before.

Liz was asked to describe her state of mind, and she said “despite fear and anxiety creeping in occasionally, I am at peace and acceptance with my diagnosis.” Notwithstanding her fears, she keeps her spirits high by helping others!

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