Editors Note: In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the MI Charitable Foundation is posting stories about survivors’ battles against this disease. Today’s post comes from Angela Lepore, an MI Windows and Doors team member. Lepore relays the story of her fight against breast cancer and her ability to stay positive when all seemed lost.
“When I heard ‘you have cancer,’ I felt like this is a battle I’m not going to win, and I was going to lose this fight. I felt alone and helpless. I had no choice but to move forward. Within weeks I was trying to plan surgery dates and understand the procedures needed. But all I could do was mentally struggle with being a 32-year-old mother now facing a double mastectomy. Reality set in that I have two very young daughters who would endure things no child should have to endure.
The day of the surgery I had both doctors working together, one removing the cancer and the other restoring what’s left physically. At that moment I realized how strong I was. I received phone calls, and prayers started pouring in from family, friends, and people I really didn’t know; they just heard about the situation and chose to reach out to me. It made me feel so fortunate that people cared. It’s the little things that matter. The gestures proved that taking something so small, like a text or a phone call, could make such a huge impact on somebody’s life. I might not be here today telling my story if not for early detection. Now cancer free for 10 years, I realize that I did win the fight after all. The person I am today is not the same person I was going through all this. Now when I see someone that needs to talk, get advice, or who just needs someone who can relate to what they’re going through, I’m that person.
After things started settling down, I decided to have the gene testing. Not for myself, but for my girls. Long story short: It came back, and I don’t carry the gene. The doctors aren’t sure why I was going through this ungodly disease. The light at the end of the tunnel is that I have turned something so mentally challenging into a positive. I know now why God had me endure what I had to. My philosophy is, live each and every day to the fullest, always look forward, never second guess yourself. My journey with cancer was not a curse; it changed my life. I’m stronger than I ever have been. There’s always a positive that comes out of something negative. Believe in yourself. When I see the word survivor, and what it means to me, I think of that person who survived through the darkest, roughest journey in their life. That person who now knows that they can look forward to the next chapter in their life.”