Sarita Jordan was 37 years old and enrolled in Widener University School of Law when she noticed a tiny bump by the nipple on her right breast. When she touched the area, she felt a mass.
Because it wasn't large, Sarita wasn’t alarmed. She was busy with schoolwork and waited two months before making an appointment with her doctor.
"At that point, I still wasn’t thinking [it might be] cancer," Sarita says. "I thought it might be a [benign] growth or cyst that could be removed. After all, I was young, and there was no history of breast cancer in my family."
'You Have Breast Cancer'
Sarita had an ultrasound and a biopsy. On September 25, 2005, she received a phone call from her doctor. Always one to be organized, Sarita wrote down everything he said. Suddenly, she focused on a sentence she had written: You have breast cancer.
"Once I read the word ‘cancer’, [my] adrenaline kicked in. I didn’t have time to sit and think," Sarita says.
Making Decisions, Dealing with Side Effects
When it was time to make treatment decisions, Sarita didn’t want to take any chances, especially since she was a single mother with three young children. After results of an MRI and ultrasound confirmed that she had stage I breast cancer, she had a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy.
Before Sarita started chemotherapy, she cut her hair. "I didn’t want to lose my hair all at once," she says. "I figured if I cut it short, it wouldn’t be as dramatic or shocking."
Sarita received many compliments. She began to grow confident that she could handle whatever treatment threw at her.
Coping with Emotions After Treatment
After Sarita’s treatment ended in March 2006, she slipped into a severe depression. "Everything was over, and I didn’t know what to do with myself," Sarita said. "It was the strangest feeling."
Sarita’s children had a difficult time handling this change in their mother. Her young son began getting into trouble at school, and one of her daughters struggled with emotional issues.
To help them cope, Sarita took her children to a therapist, where they learned to communicate openly. She also found help through Living Beyond Breast Cancer's programs and services, such as our annual fall conference.
In December 2006, a year after her diagnosis, Sarita discovered she was pregnant.
"I was in complete shock, because I didn’t think I could get pregnant after treatment for breast cancer," she says. "After chemotherapy, I didn’t have a menstrual cycle. My oncologist told me that if I didn’t get my period within a year after treatment, I would go into early menopause and be unable to conceive. I ended up getting my period right before my one-year mark."
Sarita’s doctor feared the pregnancy could increase her risk for recurrence and advised her against keeping the baby.
"I had to deal with my own mortality," Sarita says. "Do I go ahead with this pregnancy, even though I have three kids that depend on me?"
Sarita ultimately decided to keep the baby. "I felt like my life had been spared for a reason, and that reason was to have this baby," she says.
Sarita’s doctor didn’t support her decision, so she switched doctors. Her new doctor gave her a clean bill of health and didn’t find any medical reason why she shouldn’t go forward with the pregnancy.
"I’m not going to make a decision based on everyone else’s opinions," she says. "I’m going to do what’s best for me."
Volunteering and Life Beyond
Sarita became involved with Living Beyond Breast Cancer in April 2006, after she was asked to serve on an advisory committee for our Guide to Understanding Your Emotions.
"Everything happens for a reason," she says. "The right opportunities are put in your life at the right times."
Sarita’s involvement didn’t stop there. The minute she heard about our Survivors’ Helpline, she knew she'd be a perfect fit as a volunteer.
Sarita answers calls from women who have just been diagnosed, are confused about treatment options or are struggling with relationships as a result of their diagnosis. While Sarita helps others, she credits LBBC for helping her.
"Being connected to LBBC is what keeps me going," she says.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and want to talk to someone who knows what you are facing, call LBBC’s LBBC’s Survivors’ Helpline at (888) 752-LBBC (5222) to be matched with a trained volunteer affected by breast cancer who shares your circumstances. You may also request a call online.
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