Spend five minutes listening to Lydia Clarke talk about her cancer journey and you might find yourself in tears; not because of how sad her story is, but because you'll laugh as she describes what it was like to ride her roller coaster ride known as breast cancer.
Lydia credits her sense of humor for helping her get through the tough times, but says it wasn't always like that. She can still recall the exact moment her life was forever changed. "It was January 31st, 2001 at ten minutes to three and I was getting ready to leave to pick my kids up from the bus, when the phone rang."
She recalls feeling numb, as if she was walking in a fog. She remembers being confused and more than once asking, "Why would God do this to me?" But her fog was short-lived when a close co-worker reminded her that she was a fighter. "She gave me a kick in the 'you-know-what,' and told me it was time to take charge and start making plans."
Lydia also involved her entire family in her diagnosis. "My kids were five and seven at the time, but there was no whispering BREAST CANCER around my house. It was NOT taboo. THIS IS LIFE and we're all going through this!"
A self-proclaimed workaholic-control freak, she did struggle with wanting to make cancer fit into her life and not the opposite. "My family's activities were now dictated by my three-week chemo sessions. And since I'm not one to slow down, when my blood counts dropped and chemo had to be rescheduled, it was an eye-opener."
Now, a 14-year survivor, Lydia says, "The disease changed my perspective on life for the better. It made me realize what was important to me and it made me brave!"