"It helps knowing you're not alone." - Sandra Vorpahl

"It helps knowing you're not alone." - Sandra Vorpahl

For Sandra Vorpahl, 73, breast cancer became a family affair. The disease not only touched her mother, but her two maternal aunts and three cousins. The retired administrative assistant wondered if she would become breast cancer’s next casualty.

In February 2016 when Sandra discovered a lump during a breast self-exam, her worst fears were realized. The lump was stage II triple-negative breast cancer, a fast-growing, aggressive form of the disease.

Devastated, the great-grandmother made a flurry of phone calls, consulting with breast surgeons and obtaining a second opinion. Doctors agreed that Sandra should begin chemotherapy treatment immediately.

For 20 weeks, the self-confessed foodie lost her appetite, her hair and 30 pounds. “It was tough, she recalled. “I had good days and bad days.”

Sandra underwent a lumpectomy of the left breast and has been cancer- free ever since.

Sandra says family and her “faith that God would see me through,” gave her the strength to cope with the trying weeks and months of her ordeal. She also says she regrets not taking advantage of breast cancer support groups like the Coalition for Women’s Cancers at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital at the time.

“There are people at the Coalition who are going through it [breast cancer] or who have been through it five, 10 and 20 years ago,” says Sandra, who Source: breastcancer.org now attends several Coalition events, ranging from exercise classes and acupuncture treatments to virtual healthy cooking classes and retreats.

Sandra volunteers for Real Men Wear Pink, a program of the American Cancer Society that raises awareness and funds for its breast cancer initiatives and recommends that people facing a breast cancer diagnosis “find a surgeon and hospital they are comfortable with.” “Be confident in what they can do for you,” she says. “This is your journey, not someone else’s.”

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