Stories about breast cancer that can inspire and inform

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Royce’s Breast Cancer Story: Just Keep Going Forward, One Step at a Time

Royce Epstein was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. Shortly after finishing treatment, she began work at Mohawk Industries, where she is the senior director of design. Mohawk’s partnership with Komen spans more than 20 years. “I’m very lucky to work for a company that supports Komen and their work to end breast cancer,” Royce said.

Royce’s breast cancer story began after a routine mammogram. “I was pretty vigilant and kept up with my regular mammograms,” she said. “The called me back at the radiologist office and said it looked like I had early breast cancer.” Follow-up tests confirmed her diagnosis. It was during this experience that she realized how much strength she had within herself. “You never know how strong you are until you have to be strong,” she said.

Find a Community

For Royce, finding a community of women in the design industry who have been diagnosed with breast cancer has been important. They’re there to lean on one another and welcome new members into the group with open arms – which is comforting but also a stark reminder that there are no cures for breast cancer yet.

“I’m glad we’re there for each other, but breast cancer is an epidemic,” she said. “One in eight women are diagnosed. I’m glad I can be there for others with breast cancer, but it’s overwhelming.”

Advocate for Awareness & Action

As she navigated her diagnosis and new normal, Royce’s experiences showed her the importance of being an advocate for awareness and action. “Genetic testing can be crucial for people so they have a better understanding of their risks and their options when it comes to treatment,” said Royce. “It’s important to know if you’re high risk. It’s important to know what insurance will pay for and what you might have to push for.”

Slow Down

The process of learning about a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be overwhelming, and she found slowing down to be advantageous for her. “It’s important to realize you don’t have to make all these decisions immediately. It’s a process. Your life will change but you may not know how your life will change,” Royce said. “It’s overwhelming, but you have to take it one chunk at a time – not even one day at a time. Take the task at hand and get through it. Take baby steps.”

Practice Patience

One of the biggest lessons Royce learned during her treatment was patience. “I was very impatient before cancer. But I learned patience because you don’t get answers right away and sometimes you can’t make decisions until you have all the answers,” she said. “And advocating awareness and action is also really important. I had to fight for health insurance coverage for MRIs my doctors wanted but insurance didn’t think were needed.”

Move Forward

Almost ten years after her diagnosis, Royce is now focusing on the things she can control. “My new life is recovering from cancer and making sure it never happens again. You have to keep moving forward, every single day, every moment, just keep moving forward,” she said. “There are things to celebrate. It’s important to take charge of your health, to advocate for yourself.”

Learn more about the partnership between Komen and Mohawk.