My name is Laura Maloney and my husband Greg and I are raising 4 wonderful children, Jonathan (23), Nicholas (21), Anna (13), and Daniel (11). In September 2016 at age 52 I was diagnosed with stage 3 invasive lobular breast cancer after noticing some physical changes to my breast. Despite having routine mammograms, the 7 cm tumor had gone undetected for years. After undergoing a bilateral mastectomy, I made a decision to refuse the recommended chemo and endocrine therapies and seek a second opinion. My search led me to an integrative oncologist in Chicago, who promotes a holistic approach to fighting cancer with an emphasis on physical fitness, nutrition, and spiritual and emotional wellness. Although he often recommends chemo, he did not deem it beneficial in my particular case. Had I not trusted my instinct and sought a second opinion I would have undergone needless chemotherapy.
Since my diagnosis I have become vegan ,lost 20 pounds, and trained for a half marathon. As I celebrate my first cancer anniversary I reflect on the most important lessons I have learned. First, your health is your responsibility. You can greatly reduce your risk of a cancer diagnosis by choosing to eat well and exercise. If you are diagnosed educate yourself, trust your decisions about your treatment options, and make lifestyle changes to improve your chances of survival. Most importantly cancer has been a "divine tap on the shoulder", reminding me to live each day of my life as if it were my last, focusing on the truly meaningful: loving God and through Him, loving others.