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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

Next Thing Next, Following Your Heart

By Brookshire McDonald

After the death of my husband in 1996, I waited the suggested year and moved from Mandeville, Louisiana to my birth city of Raleigh, N.C. Two of my five children had asked if they could get married, and I replied, “If I’m not moving the week of your weddings!”

Back in Raleigh, I fell from a ladder while hanging wreaths outside on my windows. Who would have thought my rescuer would be an exterminator who kills bugs and fleas! I had emergency surgery on my shattered knee, followed by a second and third surgery, a blood clot, and a month in a nursing home followed by six months of live-in care at home.

I was due for a mammogram, but was told it could not be performed in a wheelchair (which was false). When I finally could stand, I had my mammogram and was called to their office during their lunch hour. The nurse, seeing me on crutches, blurted, “Oh, you have that, too!” The doctor verified I had breast cancer. I was denied a double mastectomy, and instead had a single mastectomy. My surgeon informed me if my lymph nodes were clear, I would not need chemo. My oncologist did order chemo after seeing the pathology report. The pathology report showed that my cancer was estrogen negative, progesterone positive, and HER2/neu positive. I always thought he prescribed chemo because of that, but I never really knew.

Two years to the day later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the remaining breast. I changed surgeons and had my second mastectomy, followed by treatment with an aromatase inhibitor for five years. As a widow, I hated to part with my 36 DD, which I thought was my only asset! I later found many new assets!

Experiencing humor along my journey was MOST helpful! Examples:

  1. My grandson yelling to his older brother after seeing my wig in my hand, “Come quick, GeeGee has just take-ed her hair right off the top of her head!”

  1. Poking a hole in my post-surgery drain while pinning it to my gown and having to call my doctor at 10:30 p.m., receiving instructions to DUCT TAPE it! 

  1. Another survivor saying she didn’t want implants because she would rather put her prosthesis on the shelf at night and opt for a different size every morning!


I had two mastectomies, reconstruction, areola tattoos, a hysterectomy, hip replacement, and three surgeries on my knee: 10 surgeries in nine years.

Keep moving forward and explore new interests. Mine were performing hearing tests on newborns, signing (not singing!) the national anthem at the Miracle League baseball games for special needs children, and involvement with adult day care. Find humor on your journey, be your own advocate and follow your heart.

On August 8, 2024 I will celebrate 20 years of Thrivership!

P.S. AFTER being diagnosed, I discovered I had five aunts who had breast cancer, but the “C” word was never said back then. My cancers were two primaries, and my middle daughter was diagnosed during the Covid-19 pandemic with lobular breast cancer. Each of us was negative for the BRCA gene mutation.

I love my sisters I’ve gained (even though my mother said I would never have a sister), and wish each of you well.


Love and hugs, 

Your Patron Saint

Read More:

On the Podcast: Breast Cancer Conversations

Granting Wishes Brings Joy with Elesha Snyder & Jan Hillman


Share your story, poetry, or art: Resources & Support:


Meditation Mondays:

Chakra Chanting with Gloria

Mondays at 10:00 a.m. ET 


Thursday Night Thrivers:

All Stages Support Group

Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. ET



Thursday Night Thrivers:

Metastatic Breast Cancer Support Group

First and third Thursdays

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET



Thursday Night Thrivers:

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Support Group

Second Thursday

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET


Tuesday Night Thrivers

Después de un Diagnóstico:

Grupo de Apoyo en Español

2do y Cuarto Martes de cada mes 

7:00 p.m. ET


Encourage and Empower

For Newly Diagnosed

September 10, 11:00 a.m. ET


Breast Cancer Book Club

The first Sunday of the month


Restorative Yoga:

Unearthing Opportunities

May 20 ,  5:30 p.m. ET


In Body Breathwork

May 21 ,  6:00 p.m. ET


Brain Spotting

May 27,  6:00 p.m. ET


Qi Gong

May 28,  11:30 a.m. ET


Art Therapy

June 3, 6:00 p.m. ET


Forest Bathing

Jun 4,  6:00 p.m. ET


Reflect & Recharge

Expressive Writing

June 10,  6:00 p.m. ET


Yoga Fitness with Chair Assist

June 11, 11:30 a.m. ET


Yoga Stretching for DIEP flap

June 11,  6:00 p.m. ET


Más eventos en español


Upcoming Events


Surviving Breast Cancer provides breast cancer support, events, and webinars at no cost to you! Whether you are looking to gain more knowledge on a particular topic or meet up with other breast cancer survivors, we have something for everyone. 


Our standing appointment on Thursdays is for all stages. We also host specific breakout groups once a month for specific stages and subtypes such as Metastatic breast cancer, and Inflammatory Breast Cancer, etc. 


The Book Club meets the first Sunday of every month at 11 am ET. You are welcome to join each month or pick and choose your month based on your availability and the book we are reading. 


Through art, writing, and other creative modalities, we hold the power to manage our stress, make sense of our now, and relax into moments of stillness. 


Free, monthly, online classes in restorative yoga, yoga for breast cancer, and Zumba. 


Después de un Diagnóstico

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