Four words…“You have breast cancer”


I am Cancer Free - Beverly McKeeBy Beverly McKee, LCSW, founder of BreastCancerWarrior.org.

My life was turned upside down with one phone call nearly two years ago. Waves of overwhelming emotion flooded my brain…fear, anger, uncertainty about the future. Imagine how differently I would have felt if I had known that there would be beautiful rainbows in the midst of the storm of treatment. Perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that the rainbows are always there waiting to be discovered, even on the darkest of days. All I had to do was look for them.

I found my first rainbow in a stark white oncology office. My oncologist was discussing treatment options, referencing five year survival rates with each option. Those words, “five year survival rates” echoed throughout my brain. My little boys wouldn’t be able to drive in five years…I promptly interrupted my oncologist. “With all due respect, Dr. O, I don’t care about five year survival rates. What do I need to do to survive breast cancer for forty years?”

We agreed to take an aggressive approach to treatment. That evening, I did something rather unexpected. I planned a party. Forty years into the future on the anniversary of my diagnosis: October 17, 2052. I call it my “40 Year Survivor Celebration”. This party set the course for my approach to treatment and life beyond breast cancer.

I continued to search for the rainbows, finding them in the most unexpected places. Chemotherapy was not easy, but it created the opportunity for my boys to enjoy special time with their grandma (my mom) while I rested after every treatment. Initially devastated when a chemotherapy treatment coincided with my son’s field trip at school, I was delighted to hear about the lifelong memories formed as my husband enjoyed his first field trip as a parent. I found a new appreciation for my hair, eyelashes and eyebrows. Best of all, I created a website and social media sites where breast cancer survivors from around the world inspire and offer support to one another every day.

Breast cancer treatment changes our bodies as well as our minds. A total of five surgeries left me with eleven new scars. But I learned that my body is stronger than I could have ever imagined. I no longer took for granted those days when I was strong enough to walk miles through the woods or stroll on the beach. I also gained a deeper empathy for others who are recovering from illness, surgery or facing a serious illness.

Determined to continue my quest to find the rainbows, I reframed my twenty eight radiation treatments into “28 Days of Inspiration”. As the radiation beams sought out rogue cancer cells, I created an inspirational quote for my followers on social media. I enjoyed those moments of solitude on the radiation table and could often be found in the changing room composing that day’s inspirational post.

As I approach my “Two Year Survivor Celebration”, I’m beyond excited to be in the editing phase of a book that was inspired during that first oncology visit. I poured my heart and soul into finding women around the world who are “Celebrating Life Decades after Breast Cancer”. It invites the reader to allow these forty women (one for every year until my big party) to inspire them by sharing personal stories about surviving breast cancer between twenty and nearly fifty years. The book will be released in the near future. Their experiences and unique journeys to “find their own rainbows” changed the way I view breast cancer and they will offer great hope throughout the world.

My life changed forever the day that breast cancer boldly interrupted my life nearly two years ago. But as my scars fade and the details of treatment become less pronounced, the many rainbows continue to shine bright every day. I encourage you to find your rainbows through the storm and share them with us on our social media sites. If you’re having a rough day, send us a message and enjoy support from survivors all over the world. Join us via email to keep updated on the release of “Celebrating Life Decades after Breast Cancer” to find comfort and HOPE from women who have enjoyed long, beautiful lives decades after diagnosis. We hope to hear from you soon at www.breastcancerwarrior.org.

Beverly McKeeAbout Beverly McKee:  A licensed mental health therapist by training, writer at heart, Beverly McKee has an unbridled passion for empowering others to live their best life, even in the midst of crisis. A dynamic, results-driven executive with 20+ years of leadership, public speaking and business development experience. Visit BreastCancerWarrior.org or email at

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Comments

  1. Two weeks early, but definitely Congrats for the 2 year anniversary. Taking the aggressive approach you did definitely helped you deal with it mentally. You are a true fighter and you are correct. Everyone should look not for the 5-year-survival but for the 40-year-survive-as-long-as-i-can rate 🙂

    Like

  2. Great article, Bev. I am a two-year survivor too. And, I would love to come to your party!

    Like

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