Survivor since 2000_

Cancer. Although my mother succumbed to it at 68, breast cancer never entered my mind. My diagnosis floored me. Ironically, as I sat waiting for over an hour with my dearest friend, in one of Boston’s largest imaging centers, clad in our oversized and unironed “johnnies”, waiting to see the radiologist to tell us everything was fine, I whispered to Joan, “I don’t have time for breast cancer”. And we laughed. Minutes later, my world turned upside down as my beloved radiologist said “it doesn’t look good”. At that point I simply couldn’t, literally, hear him any more. I saw his mouth moving but heard nothing. I asked him to stop and get Joan.I was diagnosed in October, 2000, with both an estrogen receptor positive (ER+) invasive breast tumor and a non-invasive Ductil Carsinoma InSitu tumor. I agonized over the conflicting recommendations I received about chemotherapy and decided that for me, chemo was not a good option. This choice was due, in part, to the fact that my tumors were vulnerable to the elimination of estrogen from my system. I had a lumpectomy and a course of radiation and began tamoxifen. Today, there are much better diagnostic tools available to help breast cancer patients receive well targeted therapy than there were in 2000.I worked part time and recuperated quickly. I was determined not to let breast cancer define me. I wanted to get back to my old routines, my friends, exercise, work. Get back to normal. It worked for me for the short term.A year out, I hit a humbling depression and then got to work on my fear and sadness and decided that I was ready for change. I had a keen sense of the preciousness of time and decided to actualize my dream of living in Colorado. I moved to Aspen for a year. That was five years ago.My breast cancer has certainly made me reprioritize. I have a heightened and present sense of appreciation for love and life. I feel incredibly lucky that I have access to the best of medical care and without it my health and future would not look the same. I am passionate about making it possible for everyone in this area to have access to the quality of medical care that has helped me in my recovery. An annual mammogram saved my life. The diagnostic, surgical, radiation, medical, psychological and acupuncture treatments were all a part of my recovery and it is my vision that this valley will find the will to create and provide this for all who need it – while being supported by our family and community.


  1. Marianne Kipper says:

    Elaine, I am not a cancer survivor (yet), but I lost my mother and both brothers to cancer. I’m hoping that statistics will save me, but in the meantime, I am doing what I can to improve the chances for all cancer patients. My work with the American Cancer Society is aimed towards finding better therapies for patients and the means to bring them to this valley. We are working on bringing a Cancer Resource Center to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood springs and I hope it will happen this year. Thanks for all you do for the Quality of Life for cancer patients.

    Marianne Kipper

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