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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

Once a Patient, Always a Patient

By Mandy Richardson



Read Mandy’s diagnosis and treatment story: Breast Cancer at 33: A Young Mom’s Story of Self-Advocacy



In some ways, once I received my breast cancer diagnosis in November 2021, life felt a little easier. There was nothing easy about fighting, begging for diagnostics and cramming the tests into a two-week period before our goal of starting chemotherapy before Thanksgiving. There wasn’t anything easy about dealing with how the chemo made me feel, or adjusting to losing my hair. But suddenly I knew what my role was: to get better.


I knew when I had doctor appointments; I set timers to remind me when to take certain medications and reminders for when to take the medications to counter the side effects. I fell into a routine of fighting.


After ringing the bell when I finished my last round of radiation in August 2022, things changed again.


Active treatment was over. I started on an oral form of chemotherapy for several weeks, but it didn’t feel the same as actively fighting. Then that stopped, too.


I started living life again, and the doctor appointments became routine follow-up appointments, spaced by months and not days or weeks.


But then it was November 2022, and I was one year post diagnosis. It was time for my follow-up mammogram. I certainly tried to play off the nerves and the “what if” feelings, but it mentally took me back to the beginning all over again. Even “all clear” results don’t completely pacify those feelings, but you go on with your life after cancer anyway, falling into the routine of the “new normal.”


But then suddenly I was six months out from the mammogram, and now it was time for the follow-up MRI. Everything was good six months ago, so surely there isn’t anything to stress about now, right? But the nerves still come.


And even if these results come back normal, there will be another mammogram in six months’ time, followed by some other test in the future.


It’s all done for good reason. And that itself is reassuring. But just as I begin moving on from feeling like a patient and returning to life, it’s time for something else to happen that makes me feel like a patient all over again.




Learn more:




Thank you for sharing your story, Mandy. SBC loves you!


SurvivingBreastCancer.org Resources & Support:



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