Lisa Vanbeek



In Nov of 2014, I was diagnosed at age 37 with Stage 2 breast cancer. Having no family history, it took everyone in my world by surprise, including my medical team who thought the tiny tumor they found in an ultrasound was likely benign. Turns out it was invasive cancer, and it also turns out that hidden inside were many more small masses and one large one (over 3″ x 1″) that didn’t show up on mammograms OR ultrasounds- they were only visible in an MRI. So we scheduled a bilateral mastectomy, lymph node dissection & reconstruction for December 30th. As most of the world was ringing in the New Year, we were learning the cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes, making the journey ahead longer and more difficult. And a week later, we learned they didn’t get all the cancerous cells out during my surgery (fairly common), which again just made the battle harder and more serious. But I did my best to keep a smile, laugh whenever possible & just envision the victory. So after a month of recovery, we started chemo in February… no fun, some unpleasant side effects, hope to never experience it again but I made it through! And next we moved onto 7 weeks of daily radiation which ended August 11th. And then 2 weeks of waiting… the docs are done treating the cancer but you don’t have a real answer so you wait… and wonder… and just try to remain optimistic & believe that you’ve done what you could… And on August 26, 2015, I saw my Oncologist. He ran the tests to check my markers and just as his office was about to close for the day, I got the call… “Lisa, your tests look great, I’m happy to say you have no visible signs of cancer. Welcome to remission.” It didn’t sink in right away- I smiled when I heard the words & I told a few people but it didn’t really register. Then all of a sudden this morning, it happened… my brain (and I think my heart) both understood in the same moment: I am no longer fighting cancer… I am a survivor. And I am truly blessed. 🙂