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Stealing from Cancer

Written by Erin Price-Schabert
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As a young woman living outside of D.C., I always had a passion for helping others. After college I began my career as a fundraising consultant helping nonprofit organizations meet their financial goals. This role, gave me the ability to direct my passion to support many causes that I cared about.In July of 2010, while enjoying a day at the beach I felt something in my left breast. Having just switched jobs I decided to take a wait-and-see approach until my insurance plan became active in four weeks’ time.When I saw the doctor they were reassuring and noted it was probably nothing, but suggested a mammogram. Since I had just started a new job and the doctor didn’t seem very concerned, I waited a few weeks before I sought out the test. During the mammogram the tech also mentioned that the lump didn’t seem to be anything to be concerned with, but suggested a biopsy just to be safe.

The nine centimeter lump I had found in my left breast was diagnosed as Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) with micro invasion. By October 2010, I had begun treatment for breast cancer. After several months of chemo therapy to shrink the tumor, on St. Patrick’s Day 2011, I had a single mastectomy of my left breast and by September 2011 I had undergone several more surgeries to reconstruct the left breast and to reduce the right breast to better match my newly constructed left side.

Throughout this journey of uncertainty with health insurance, my diagnosis of breast cancer and treatment, Ben my fiancé was by my side. I met Ben during my senior year of college, as I went through treatment he played the role of night time caregiver (I was lucky my mom could care for me during the day), as well as remaining a strength I could draw upon.

Though I had amazing friends, family and Ben in my life and felt very supported, when I heard about Young Survival Coalition (YSC), I knew I needed to know more. During a chemotherapy session, a 10-year survivor, told me about YSC. I attended my first YSC meeting in February of 2011. From that meeting, my circle of support expanded exponentially. I eventually became a member of the YSC DC Metro Leadership team, going on to become a YSC State Leader and recently started leading the YSC DC Metro area Face 2 Face network.
Along my journey, I have also had the opportunity to twice attend C4YW, the Annual Conference for Young Women with Breast Cancer. I continue to work to help others and my commitment to young women with breast cancer doesn’t stop there.

As a result of my own experience with cancer, I chose to take my skills as a fundraising consultant to the nonprofit sector directly to a local cancer organization. Now, every day I work to connect young adult cancer support groups, promoting collaboration as a pathway to increased success. I use my knowledge of YSC and reaching other young women affected by breast cancer as an example of how this can be accomplished.
I am thriving in my career and was recently married to Ben in a beautiful ceremony in Colorado. My two matrons of honor were women who have become like sisters to me, whom I met through YSC which I describe as my silver lining to the challenges I have faced due to this diagnosis.

Breast cancer truly is a sisterhood, though the initiation really does stink!