My Story Part III: There’s no such thing as a free lunch

It was as though I were floating in space as soon as the word, “Cancer,” filtered through my ear drum. All senses suspend. Appendages go numb. Lips feel fuzzy. Time stops.

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My Story Part I: Happy Birthday To Me

“You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand.”

– Irene C. Kassorla

As most women in their late 20s, (in my case, really late 20s. I’m 29 and several quarters) turning another 4 quarters older was not very exciting for me. In fact, it was pretty depressing. Especially when I factored in the fact that I was still single, in debt, with 2 kids with an absent father who marginally fulfills his legal financial obligations, and not without a fight, working for a start-up company and still struggling hard to make ends meet. I’ve long said that I refuse to enter into my 30s on the record until I was re-married, out of debt, no longer dependent on the supplemental income from child support to provide for my children and being able to afford a one-week Disney/cruise vacation once a year. To me, that’s the definition of an adult life. I’ll forego the white picket fence and the remaining 1/2 kid.

But, I wasn’t there yet. To boot, the previous year was brutal for me. Yes, there were many victories along the way, including becoming a successful fundraiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LIVESTRONG), a regular and passionate cyclist and a new mountain biker, all attributed to the passion for the sport of cycling inspired by an old friend. In fact, my very enthusiastic involvement with LIVESTRONG was primarily the result of a bet issued by this friend to ride 200 miles in one day. Along the ride, I met a LIVESTRONG Leader who was also a fundraising mentor who convinced me to get more involved with the cause – for the rewards, incentive to perform etc. It had far less to do with cancer survivorship. I rode for people I loved, of course, but it was more about this amazing community of passionate cyclists, at the time.

The previous year was overwhelmed by the sorrow over a devastating fight with that same friend who inspired me to ride in the first place, his perpetual, and at times, cruel, silent treatment and my constant battle against my own metabolism. Friends pointed at depression over this broken friendship, and me being too “emo” for my own good, as the reason I was sleeping abnormally, moody and not myself. Part of me believed this to be the case — this certainly was what kept me up at night  — I was afraid of dreams of reconciliation and waking up to the disappointment of knowing that, apparently, there was a brewing hatred on his end. Something else was wrong.

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Fighting Breast Cancer in a Down Economy: A Safety Net Exists in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam

A note from Liz Johnson, Journal News editor:

Our first story in our October series on breast cancer awareness was written by Linda Lombroso and publishes today, Oct. 2, 2011. Rica Mendes, our Battling Breast Cancer blogger, will be leading conversations about different aspects of this story — and using it for other blog posts throughout the week. But after the jump, you’ll find the story in its entirety, should you like to see how it was presented our Sunday Life section in The Journal News.

When Clara Castillo learned she needed a double mastectomy last year, she worried that reconstructive surgery was out of the question. For Silvia Flores, there were always new excuses to delay going to the doctor after she found a lump in her breast.

The reason for both women’s anxiety? Neither had health insurance.

The good news, for both Castillo, right, and Flores — and families across the area facing similar dilemmas — is that there are free and low-cost services available locally for breast-cancer screening, treatment and support, including mammograms, rides to medical appointments and care from specialists affiliated with top hospitals in the Lower Hudson Valley.

After the jump, their stories.

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