It was January 1978, and Narges Rothermel was nursing her son when she noticed a lump in her left breast. Then just 36 years old, Narges visited her doctor, but he dismissed the lump as a back-up of breast milk.
"He thought I was too young to get breast cancer," says Narges.
When the lump failed to go away, Narges had a biopsy and got the news. "As a nurse, I knew right away, because the needle had no fluid. There was no doubt in my mind it was cancer."
Narges underwent a unilateral mastectomy and, after nodes were found on her neck and chest, a two-year course of chemotherapy. The doctors told her she had 10 or 11 years to live.
Her first thought was that she must stay alive--for her children's sake. "They were so young, and I knew I had to fight," she says. "Every day I lived was another day I was here for them."
For two decades, Narges was in remission, beating the doctors' dire predictions. At age 56, however, she found a cancerous lump in her right breast and had another mastectomy. That was 17 years ago, and these days she is in remission and feeling terrific.
Throughout the journey, Narges found solace in her friends and family, along with the support of other survivors at the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Group, for which she volunteers.
Narges also found comfort in her lifelong passion for writing. The poet and author of two books--Wild Flowers and Rays and Shadows--shares her life story, including her journey through breast cancer. She has donated the profits of Rays and Shadows to the Adelphi program that is so dear to her heart.
"When people call and I tell them how long I've survived, it gives them hope," she says. "Most of the time, cancer is survivable. I'm proof of that."