My best friend of over 20 years, college roommate, and maid of honor, Rebecca Nowak [Johnson] died of breast cancer.
Rebecca was only correctly diagnosed 11 months before she died — from the first lump she felt to the fourth Doctor she saw (3 prior men, the last a woman). The male doctors had dismissed her complaint as purely from breastfeeding; something to massage and use hot compress on. To these men, she was in the wrong age group for breast cancer and her complaints were dismissed as not knowing her own body. The last doctor did a mammogram and found stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. It should have never taken 11 months to have gotten a routine scan or for someone to listen about something so life and death.
Becky was only 31 when she received the diagnosis. She did chemotherapy and everything seemed to be in remission until the following year when it had metastasized in Rebecca’s brain. The oncologist gave her just three weeks to live. That felt world-shattering in the moment but Rebecca lived 3 years longer than anyone could have expected. That was extra time with her husband and boys; for family and friends to make the most of our time with her.
Rebecca was graceful, courageous, and optimistic. She had this profound faith in God that couldn’t be shaken, no matter what devastating hurdle came her way. She was the kindest, most compassionate, and selfless person I’ve ever met. I loved her with all my heart and now I’m truly devoted to sharing her story.
I want to encourage women to be their own advocates and be pushy if you think anything feels it shouldn’t be that way. Get your breasts checked regularly and don’t forget to do self-checks. If you feel something, say something. It does no harm to get a professional opinion and a second opinion if you still have doubts. Cancer is one of those things that the earlier you catch it the better your chances are.
The purest and most loving form of self-care is taking care of your body!
Love and Light to everyone.
By Katy Johnson
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