July 2003
My husband, Carl, and I had our RV packed and were all ready for a six week trip from Oregon to Wisconsin. Then came the call from my surgeon. He wanted to see me in his office, so that was a concern. The fact that he could not tell me the results of my breast biopsy over the phone was another. We towed our RV to the clinic, planning to leave right after my appointment. The news was not what I had hoped for. He told me I had breast cancer.

Like many others receiving a cancer diagnosis, I didn’t really hear the details. He was so kind, handing me a box of tissues and a white box tied with a pink ribbon.

I tearfully told my husband, and instead of heading off on our trip, we headed home. After trying to absorb the shocking news, we decided that since we were all packed, we might as well go somewhere. kittelson2.JPGStill in shock, we headed for the high Cascade Mountain lakes, one of our favorite places.  I kayaked in the beauty of the crystal blue waters, trying to relax and process what was happening. Being outdoors in the beauty of nature, whether it be on water, desert, mountains or forest brings me a calm and peace beyond understanding.

The next morning I was in the office of the local hospital’s nurse case manager, a breast cancer survivor herself. She was very gracious and helpful, going over some of the details with me, answering my questions and most importantly, giving me hope for the future.

The following day we met a group who were camping from our church. Two women came up to me, acquaintances about to become friends, breast cancer “sisters.” They gave me a tremendous amount of hope, as both were out several years from their cancer and very healthy. One would later become my Support Sister. There is no one quite the same as someone who has been there, and knows what to say and do to be supportive.
kittelson1.JPGThat white box with the pink ribbon? I opened it after a few days to find many comfort items and resources, lovingly packed by Support Sisters, breast cancer survivors.  They brought me hope with their caring actions of putting this together.

In summary, four things that brought me HOPE during those early days after diagnosis:

  • A couple of good friends: supportive “sisters” who are also breast cancer survivors to walk the journey at my side.
  • Getting honest answers to my questions from a caring, compassionate professional.
  • A white box tied with a pink ribbon, filled with items from caring breast cancer survivors.
  • Knowing that no matter what the future holds: the pristine mountains, high lakes, deserts and forests will always be there for me.

Hope has many faces when you’re fighting. Want to be matched with Mary – or another Support Volunteer who has been where you are?  Click HERE or call 877-HOPENET (877-467-3638) today.