Diane is a survivor in the fullest definition of the word. She saw her mom and her sister pass from cancer, and then received her own cancer diagnosis, despite having tested negative for the indicator for the disease. She is now celebrating more than two years post-diagnosis. For Diane, PWC has served as both a retreat space and a recovery center.
Diane first came to PWC through the FitScripts program, which she says gave her a great introduction to the center. When her sister was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, Diane stepped up to serve as her caregiver. She returned to PWC during this very stressful and sad period, and found solace in walking in the pool current. “My mental therapy was walking in the pool,” she remembers.
Realizing that she needed to be proactive about her health, Diane underwent the BRCA test that indicates disease susceptibility in breast cancer indicator genes. She tested negative, but was considered high risk, which meant that her screening measures were intensified. In early fall 2016 after a screening, she got the call confirming cancer had been found.
After recovering well from surgery, Diane was laid low by a lingering cold that severely affected her strength and endurance for daily activities. For about 6 months, she was unable to get back to her job as a merchandiser that requires lots of lifting and driving. For support, her employer had matched her up with another employee who had gone through breast cancer. “She was great to talk to and we spoke regularly. At the time she was a 5-year survivor and she offered me such support, strength and optimism,” notes Diane.
She adds, “My husband Edwin was my rock. He kept track of all the medical information and was a really good caregiver for me. My kids were awesome, too. They had seen their aunt struggle but were so great about caring for her with activities she enjoyed, like doing her nails.”
In addition to the support she received from her family and work colleague, Diane participated in the cancer support group at Fauquier Hospital. She also continues to be a member of invitation-only Facebook groups for cancer patients and survivors – “my sisters,” she says. She does advise anyone looking into online groups to be careful of personal privacy and wary of scams.
Another effort that Diane appreciates is Culpeper County’s Relay for Life at Eastern View High School. She is on the hospital’s team for this annual walk and says that it has been fantastic for her recovery.
After reconstructive surgery, Diane decided to take action to combat weight she had gained during her post-surgery recovery period and from medication side effects. She was plagued by frequent colds and back pain and wanted to improve her health and regain muscle.
In her initial efforts, Diane was supported by the Culpeper Medical Center physical therapy staff. “At first, I could barely walk around the track,” Diane notes. After she regained some strength, her doctor suggested Weight Watchers (now known as WW). She also started working with a trainer at PWC.
Diane has lost 50 pounds, and has gone from a size 16 to a size 4. “I’ve reached my goal,” she says. “I’m now working to maintain my weight with WW. It does take discipline and it’s up to you how you want to manage it. My scale, FitBit and WW app are all synced to help me keep track.”
Her current regimen at PWC includes sessions twice a week with PWC trainer Sarah Mahoney, focusing on developing full body strength through the core, arms and legs. Diane shares the happy news: “My back pain is gone, I hardly get colds, and I’m stronger. I’m back to work, and reaching 10,000 daily steps is easy with my job!”
Thanks to Diane for sharing her story and best wishes to her as she continues on her health journey.