|Written by Carolyn McWilliams, sister of Press Corp player Lisa DesjardinsWhen people say to me, “you are a survivor” (and seem to make a big deal out of it), I think “really?”
It is not as if I did anything heroic, or grandiose. Instead, I was fortunate to have the love and support of family, friends, and an intelligent, caring medical community behind me.
In 2006 I was diagnosed with a borderline ovarian tumor, which was easily taken care of with a complete hysterectomy. A year later, through the grace of God, I found a very small lump in my right breast. I had a mammogram 3 months earlier. Turns out, my lump was malignant, had spread to the lymph nodes and was HER-2 positive. So, after a healthy, barely-went-to-the-doctor life, I entered the surreal world of appointments, treatments, blood tests, and MRI’s. I stepped onto a merry-go-round, going around and around with one medical issue after another.
Yet, I never felt I was doomed, never felt a woe-is-me attitude, never saw it as a death sentence. I knew that the field of breast cancer had so many advances, especially with Herceptin. I was riding the merry-go-round, taking it one appointment at a time. I was just doing what I had to do to get to the next round. I made sure to be my own advocate, staying educated on my progress and treatments.
I have made it past the 5-year mark and I can confidently say I don’t plan on riding the merry-go-round anymore!
My family and friends were survivors right along side me. They had their concerns and worries for me and they too are survivors, for which I am so grateful! My sister Lisa Desjardins helped me in more ways than she will ever know. She listened, she stayed involved with my treatment, and she stayed positive with me. She was my warm blanket. She wouldn’t hesitate to make the two and one-half hour drive to my house in Pennsylvania when I needed her help. She even was able to come on short notice on the day I got my port. I am so proud of her and her participation in the softball game! (go Press Corps!)
I am also so thankful for all the organizations that raise money for research and medical assistance for those affected by breast cancer. It amazes me that people give so selflessly of their time to help others affected by breast cancer.
So now when someone wants to put me in the survivor spotlight, I would like them to know that everyone has something they need to “survive” and it CAN be done by having faith, finding and using your inner strengths, receiving help from others and having a positive attitude.
Carolyn McWilliams, mother of three girls, Kelsey (University of Delaware) Michelle (University of Pittsburgh) and Shannon (STEM Academy,Downingtown PA ) wife of Jim McWilliams. Hometown: Annandale, Virginia. Currently living in Downingtown, PA Graduated BS Pharmacy from Duquesne University,Pittsburgh. Retail pharmacist for Rite Aid, Reading PA. Carolyn’s sister Lisa Desjardins will be playing for the Press Corp at this year’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game.