Life is a Roller Coaster

| November 19, 2013 | 3 Comments

by Angela Long

I have determined…life is a roller coaster that we get to ride one time, and it’s mostly in the dark. My ride started off pretty smoothly….with the typ­i­cal ups and downs. Until that day in Feb­ru­ary of 2004 when I heard those three lit­tle words that would for­ever change my life… “You have can­cer.” I was 35, mar­ried to my high school sweet­heart, and mother to our son and daugh­ter who were only five and two years of age.

When I heard those words, my roller coaster went into a free fall. Panic and fear set in, not only for my own life, but more impor­tantly for the lives of those who were on my ride with me. It was breast can­cer that had spread to my lymph nodes and was con­sid­ered to be late stage two. The next year and a half included six surg­eries, eight rounds of chemother­apy, and twelve months of Her­ceptin. Dur­ing that period, when I was not in treat­ment, surgery or tend­ing to my two young chil­dren, I spent my time caught in thought, won­der­ing if I would have the priv­i­lege to see them grow to be adults or even big kids. It was a con­stant strug­gle to keep myself from going to dark places in my mind.

After I had com­pleted treat­ment, I attempted to reach my new nor­mal, but I con­tin­ued to bat­tle with the fear of my can­cer return­ing. At that point in my jour­ney, my ride had me in an upside down spi­ral. I didn’t know who I was, where I was, and I had no idea where I was going. What really helped me through this dif­fi­cult time and out of my spi­ral was help­ing oth­ers dur­ing their can­cer jour­ney. Those who knew me would reach out to me if they had a young patient or friend who was diag­nosed with breast can­cer. Men­tor­ing and offer­ing sup­port to these women seemed to give me a new per­spec­tive on my own sit­u­a­tion and give my strug­gle a pur­pose. I could hold their hands, lend an ear, and give them a form of com­fort because I had been there too. As the years went on, I found myself get­ting more involved in advo­cacy in my com­mu­nity and edu­cat­ing on breast self-awareness and early detec­tion. I became a fundraiser for local non­prof­its to help fur­ther research and sur­vivor­ship sup­port. As a result the more involved I got, the more I real­ized how much infor­ma­tion and resources are avail­able to assist us.…provided we know about them.

This real­iza­tion led me to my vision to cre­ate an online tool to bring all of this infor­ma­tion into one com­pre­hen­sive breast health resource to empower those affected by breast can­cer to make the best, most informed deci­sions about their breast health and well being. I had a vision of a breast health net­work where proac­tive indi­vid­u­als, sur­vivors, health pro­fes­sion­als and sup­port orga­ni­za­tions could come together online to gain and share infor­ma­tion and resources. Breast Inves­ti­ga­tors was cre­ated to take the mys­tery out of breast cancer.

My advo­cacy involve­ment has brought about many excit­ing twists and turns in my life. I’m thank­ful to my men­tors who have helped build the track under­neath me on my jour­ney and all who have encour­aged and sup­ported me along the way. I’m thank­ful for my fam­ily, friends and sup­port­ers for they are what keep my ride oper­a­tional. And I am most thank­ful to God for all of the highs, lows, twists, turns, loops, spi­rals, climbs and free falls that have brought me to where I am today — a place where every­day is a gift and an oppor­tu­nity to make a dif­fer­ence. To con­clude, I would like to end with a quo­ta­tion by author Kris­ten Ash­ley that sums up the best advice I can give.

Roller-Coaster“Life’s a roller coaster. Best damn ride in the park. You don’t close your eyes, hold on and wait for it to be over, babe. You keep your eyes open, lift your hands straight up in the air and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.”

 

Category: Inspire

Comments (3)

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  1. Wendy Doherty says:

    Very nice. I espe­cially like the last quote: “Life’s a roller coaster. Best damn ride in the park. You don’t close your eyes, hold on and wait for it to be over, babe. You keep your eyes open, lift your hands straight up in the air and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.”

  2. Angela Long says:

    Thanks, Wendy! I like that too. It pretty much sums it up doesn’t it?

  3. linda vernon says:

    Absolutely beau­ti­ful arti­cle! I am so encour­aged by Angela’s story of faith, strength, deter­mi­na­tion and love!

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