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By Julie Moser
Military Spouse, Breast Cancer Advocate
Founder, Executive Director, PWATX
October 28, 2013, is a date that will always be one that will be remembered without thinking about it.
You know, like a birth date or wedding anniversary.
October 28, 2013, is the day I became a survivor. When the doctor said the words: “You have cancer.”
On the early morning of my husband’s third deployment send-off, I noticed a brown line under my left breast after a shower. It looked like I had burned my skin with a curling iron.
My husband said that it probably wasn’t a big deal as long as I didn’t feel any lumps. I didn’t tell him I felt something but told him that I would get it checked out later in the day with my primary care physician. My doctor found three lumps.
Being a seasoned military spouse, we are resilient to many things that others may wonder how we do it. How is it that we face the challenges that come with a deployment? How do we get by without our spouse for long periods at a time?
I can tell you this was the first time that I did not know what I was going to do without my spouse. I didn’t feel prepared. We are prepared for something to happen to our spouses and not to us.
I was introduced to Breast Friends Forever support group in San Antonio, through another young survivor. I was happy to find a tribe that understood what I was going through and helped me navigate my way through my own journey. There are so many different ages and breast cancer diagnoses. They are the ones that would help with late-night texts when I felt lost and confused.
I remember being at a group gather with BFFs over Christmas time and meeting so many smiling faces. It gave me hope that I was going to be OK and to be able to get through all of the things that lied ahead.
While I love the BFFs, I found there was another type of need in the breast cancer community. The financial toxicity that comes with a breast cancer diagnosis if very real.
There are a handful of organizations that give financial assistance. Each one of them has a process to qualify for help. Our family never qualified as we are the typical middle-class family. We were not bankrupt, and I had to leave my job after rare complications during treatments.
PWATX provides two college scholarships to those needing assistance for school and who have been impacted by cancer.
What makes PWATX unique is the only requirement is to be a legal U.S. resident. It is not income-based like the others. Cancer doesn’t care if you are wealthy or not, it will impact you and your family more ways than one. One should not have to rely on credit cards or go bankrupt to maintain basic necessities while in treatment.
To learn more visit pwatx.org.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of guest blog posts from Breast Friends Forever (BFF) in San Antonio, Texas (64% Latino). BFF is a support group that enables young breast cancer survivors to share stories and experiences, developed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio (the team behind Salud America!) and Susan G. Komen San Antonio. Email BFF or Visit BFF on Facebook. The main image above features Julie Moser.