#YWBC Profile: Jill
Occupation: Social worker
Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 41
Breast cancer type: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma with one positive lymph node, er+/pr+ her2-
Breast cancer stage: 2
Treatment: lumpectomy, FEC-D chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal therapy
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer
I lived in South Korea for several years after university. To this day I can still read a menu and order food in a restaurant in a Korean restaurant, in Korean!
What’s your go-to pick-me-up song?
Hello by Hedley
How did you discover your breast cancer?
I found it during a self exam. I’m not really sure why I did them regularly because I’m quite low risk and was never particularly worried about breast cancer, but I did. In the past when I found a lump I would check on it in a week or two, and it would be gone. This time I was at the doctor the next day, it was very small but something felt different.
What went through your head when you received your diagnosis?
That I had to plan everything around my daughter’s bat mitzvah scheduled for less than a month later and that it had to be the best day ever for my family. Also that it was really unfair that one day could be so bad, because I got my diagnosis just a few hours after I’d had to put down my beloved cat.
What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer?
So many people have asked me if I’m going to get medicinal marijuana. It’s their first question! I don’t mean people that actually know a lot about medicinal marijuana and wanted to help me, I mean people that just thought it would be cool that I might be able to get pot legally!
Who is your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer?
My husband. This has been traumatic and difficult for him too, but he has been my rock and held everything together for us.
What is the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer?
Having to tell my kids I have cancer, and worrying that I may not see my kids grow up, yet never letting them worry about that.
What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself?
How resilient I am. A few years ago somebody close to me was diagnosed with cancer, she was so calm and I remember saying to my good friend that if it ever happened to me I would just be in a fetal position in my bed until it was all over. That has definitely not happened! Of course I have had my fetal position moments, but there have also been a lot of good happy “normal” moments in my life since my diagnosis, I’m still doing all of the things that I did before, including working (when I’m up to it).
What words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
As difficult and scary and devastating as this feels right now, it will get easier and you will still have moments of joy and happiness.