Survivor Story: Ela Gray
Because I have lived with dense breast tissues my whole life and had series of biopsies and surgeries over the years, I was not entirely shocked when I finally heard the “C” word this year in March. I think I was always prepared to be the 1 in 8. What I wasn’t prepared for was hearing that I was Stage 2 (at least), after decades of diligent screening/checks. Just know that mammograms are not reliable if you have dense, fibrous tissues. Plus, technicians and doctors are human and things can be missed. Thank goodness I didn’t trust the “clean” mammogram and insisted on an MRI, even if it was couple months later. Trust your instincts. Don’t be afraid to ask them to check again. Be your own advocate. The first few weeks were the worst when you don’t know yet how bad it is and don’t have all the information but I am very fortunate to have a wonderful, supportive family, including my sister who is an amazing doctor. She was my rock during those panic-filled weeks and with her help, I now have a team with an amazing oncologist and surgeon (do not settle on this! Get the doctors who will fight the insurance company to get the right tests and scans approved!), and I am halfway through my chemo treatments. I still have a long road ahead of me (surgery, radiation, and drug therapy for years ahead) but I am feeling positive and strong in my fight because I am incredibly fortunate to have amazing support from all around (family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and also newly made cancer buddies). Getting cancer is humbling but what has been more humbling is the incredible kindness, caring, and generosity that we have received. It has been a huge reminder of how amazing people can be and what is really important – the love you give and receive, and the positive impact people can make every day, even in little kindnesses (like a quick note or text of support). You only get one life – fill it with love, treasure it and the people in your life every day. And please donate to the cause so that our daughters and granddaughters will not have to live with 1 in 8 odds.