Mahika Arya

“Cancer made me so grateful.”

Mrs. Karen Dennis

“I knew that if I could get through that, I could get through anything. I was diagnosed in September of 2013. I had what’s called breast cancer, but it’s a DCIS — ductal carcinoma in situ. They don’t even stage it because it’s so early. The early detection was amazing. I had the mammogram, and within a month I had the mysectomy. Because they got it very, very early, I did not have to have radiation or chemotherapy. Really, it’s not the surgery that makes breast cancer so awful — it’s the chemo and the radiation, or you lose your hair, you’re sick, plus all the drugs. You realize that every day could be your last … so you’ve got to live each day to the fullest. My main support systems were my girlfriends and a church … they were there checking on me, making sure I had food. In this particular kind of cancer, you go back for a mammogram every year, and it’s a 17 percent chance that the cancer will come back in five years … I just had my fifth year mammogram last fall, so that was amazing. I’ve always been a happy person and it’s easy for me to be grateful for my life. But [cancer] made me … feel free somehow. I really believe things happen the way they’re supposed to; this was just another step. Nothing happens to an individual that hasn’t happened to thousands and thousands of people before. Does that minimize the pain that you’re experiencing? No, but it gives you courage because they got through it, so you can get through it too.

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