I Beat Cancer with Faith, Friends and Family
January 24, 2017 | Express Scripts
In my role with Accredo (Express Scripts’ specialty pharmacy), I manage a team that helps cancer patients get access to their medications. A big part of this job revolves around understanding the fear, apprehension and stress patients experience when reaching out to us. I have a special connection to these patients, because I am a breast cancer survivor.
A Day I’ll Never Forget
On December 18, 2007, I found a lump in my left breast. I freaked out. After seeing both my primary care physician and my OB/GYN, I had a mammogram and an ultrasound to determine if the lump was just a cyst or something more serious. Since neither test showed anything abnormal, I was referred to a breast specialist for a biopsy. My husband Mike and I had to wait for the results, but the specialist told us to be prepared that it may be cancer.
Mike and I drove around for what seemed like hours that day trying to comprehend what we had been told. At the time, my daughters were seven and ten, and I was terrified I might not get to see them grow up.
The next day, while at work, I got a call around noon. It was then I learned I had cancer. I was absolutely shocked and at a loss. A work friend saw me crying and helped me into a conference room. Upon hearing the news, my manager, along with another work friend, drove me home.
That Saturday, Mike and I were trying to wrap our minds around what needed to be done. I was so overwhelmed. I got lost driving my daughter to a birthday party and both of us ended up in tears. We found the party, but I realized I just didn’t feel like myself. It all felt so odd ― even with the cancer diagnosis, life was still going on around me. In that moment, I decided I was still the same person I had been and the diagnosis was not going to define me. We would fight this, and we would win!
Mike and I met with surgeons and oncologists to determine how to proceed. I was scheduled to go on medical leave on January 18, have a left-side mastectomy on the 25th, and start chemotherapy three weeks later. The game plan included four rounds of chemo with no radiation. Needless to say, the process was overwhelming, and my girls were scared.
On the day I was scheduled to start medical leave, my mother-in-law passed away suddenly. This shocked Mike and I to the core and we immediately went to my father-in-law’s aide. Little did I know, my colleagues, who are like my second family, had planned a surprise to celebrate my last day at work for a while.
When Mike and I went to the office later that afternoon – after things were settled with his family – words cannot adequately express what we walked into. Colleagues lined the walkway giving us hugs, expressing their condolences and wishing me well. As we made our way down the walk, we were ushered into the breakroom where more coworkers were waiting to shower us with baskets of goodies. We were simply shocked by the outpouring of love for us and so truly blessed!
That day only helped confirm I was still the same person I was prior to my diagnosis, and with all the love and support around me, I was going be OK and able to return to work.
Over the next six months, loved ones supported us every step of the way. When I went back to work the first week of July, I was thrilled to return to my team – who had taken care of everything for me while I was gone.
A Newfound Understanding
Since beating cancer, I have been able to minister to so many women and give them encouragement during their battles. At work, I am even more passionate about Accredo’s mission because I have a true understanding of how a day in the life of someone on chemo or dealing with cancer looks. I try to ensure my team understands those feelings and knows what they do daily truly impacts patient’s lives.
When I hear my team interact with cancer patients, I am filled with pride for how well they listen to the patient’s needs and do a small part to provide hope and comfort.
Though this chapter of my life has been a filled with its fair share of challenges, it has given me a new appreciation of the work I do at Accredo and a reminder of how many people I have supporting me. Through it all, I beat cancer with the help of my faith, friends and family.
Diane is a Supervisor, Eligibility working in Accredo’s Specialty Oncology division.
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