My name is Patricia Fox, and at 26 years old I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Before my cancer diagnosis I was an insurance sales producer. Prior to that I was a personal banker. My intention at that time was to return to college to finish my bachelor’s degree in Accounting. And so, as my father advised, I carefully selected careers that complemented my degree. My career in insurance initially felt phenomenal because it was high paying with other rewards. I had my own place, the latest Nissan,and I returned to college.
Then on November 22, 2013, I discovered a lump in my right breast while in the shower. I got a needle biopsy and on December 5, my doctor carefully told me that it was breast cancer, but was confident I would be a survivor.
On December 16, I met with my surgical oncologist, and on February 12 I had a lumpectomy. To follow, I had 16 rounds of chemotherapy.
During chemotherapy, I remember when the treatments changed from one to the next. Immediately I knew because I was flustered with angst and emotion. I was face to face with myself and no distractions —no strangers to impress with how put together I seemed, no hair, no makeup, no eyebrows. Just my shell and a spirit dying to live.
To save myself, I went to therapy. Therapy forced me to feel and talk about it all. Good things, bad things, painful things, relationships, religion, fears, future plans—everything. It was what I needed before the new wind of changes to come in my life.
After chemotherapy, I had 37 radiation treatments. Those days were rough. I would wake up 5 a.m. to get to radiation by 7 a.m., to then commute by bus and foot to be at work by 9 a.m.. But I did what I had to do. I was also prescribed tamoxifen for five years. After a couple months, I stopped taking it because I felt it negatively affected my quality of life.
Returning to my insurance job was difficult. I loathed the job and some of the personalities I worked with. I wanted to be expressive, artistic, and inspiring, and this job was stifling. Suddenly I was coming into my own! One day, while at my desk, I typed my letter of resignation. The transition was not that easy, however. I lost everything and relocated to Philadelphia.
In Philadelphia, I hit the ground running! Now I am a certified makeup artist and facilitate free beauty classes for the cancer community. I was featured in a beauty tutorial series for cancer patients and survivors. More recently, I am a published author featured in a collective of 13 other survivors where I share more details about who I am and my cancer journey into healing. I use my social media as a platform to be a point of reference and inspiration for all survivors.
While we wait for a cure, I want to share with you that THIS IS TEMPORARY! Cancer is not forever. So live as fully as you can and plan for the best days of your life for the rest of your life!
Last year the AACR provided over $64 million in grants and awards funding lifesaving cancer research. There are many ways you can support our mission to prevent and cure all cancers.