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JoBeth Foley
Owner/Manager
In-Home Angels, LLC

MY CANCER STORY

I have always been a very compassionate person with a strong desire to help others.

 

Over the past 16 years of my life I have cared for many family members, loved ones and clients. During that time I saw firsthand what cancer can do to your life. I always thought I understood what someone was going through on their cancer journey -- because I was there supporting them. Everything I learned from caring for others was not enough to prepare me for what I was about to endure.

 

After giving birth to my third child in 2017, I felt a very large lump in my right breast. I did not think much of it considering I just had a baby, and your body goes through many changes. Being on the cautious side I saw my doctor and was sent immediately to get a biopsy. I was a nervous wreck waiting for those results to come in.

 

One week later I was given the worst news of my life. I was diagnosed with Cancer. The first and only thing I could think of was my children. I am the backbone of my family, and my children are my life. My oldest son was 10 years old, my youngest son was almost 6 years old, and I just had my baby girl. How would my life be? Will I survive? How would I take care of my children? I was a emotional disaster. I had to pull myself together and find out more information.

After further testing, I learned that I had stage 2B Triple Negative breast cancer. I also found out that I carry the BRCA1 gene which puts me at a higher risk of getting other cancers, such as ovarian cancer. My doctor started me on aggressive chemotherapy because I was young, and my body could handle it. This chemotherapy would cause my hair to fall out. To prevent the heartache of seeing my hair fall out, I shaved my head (I cried the whole time).

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Before even starting chemotherapy, I learned that cancer takes so much from you. A few months into my first cycle of chemo I started to feel horrible, I knew something was wrong. I could barely walk or breathe, I literally felt like I was dying. I went to the emergency room. After many tests, they found a large blood clot in the upper right chamber of my heart. It was unknown if the clot was caused from chemo or my port. I was devastated. Not only was I fighting cancer, but now I was dealing with a life-threatening blood clot.

 

I was hospitalized for 6 weeks. My family and I basically made ourselves at home on the cancer unit at Yale. I had to have a risky surgery to have the clot removed. I was petrified I would lose my life and never see my kids again. But by the grace of God, I made it through the surgery and the clot was successfully removed. It was a difficult recovery. Once I was fully healed, I had to resume chemo.

 

I was apprehensive about starting chemo and gave my doctor hell about it --  but I did it. After a long year of chemotherapy, it was time to remove my right breast. I was so upset because I already lost my hair and now my breast!! I felt like I was losing everything that defined me as a woman, it may seem small to some people, but it was hard to look at myself the same way.

 

I was run down, exhausted, emotionally drained, and felt like I was losing myself. I felt defeated, but I kept a positive attitude and kept motivating myself to fight hard because my children needed me. I went through with my right mastectomy, but still weak from chemo, it was a struggle.

 

Once I healed from my right mastectomy I had to start radiation. Radiation was a lot to deal with -- my skin was very sore, it started to peel, and the fatigue was difficult to manage. The only thing that I looked forward to was ringing the bell at the Completion Ceremony and having my family there to cheer me on.

When I thought I was done with treatment I was informed I had to do chemo for a few more months. Again, I gave my doctor hell, but I knew it was in my best interest, so I complied.

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Although I wanted this to be over, I knew there was more that had to be done. I was given some time to regain my strength then I had to have my left breast removed and a full hysterectomy. I did these surgeries for preventative reasons. I wanted to make sure I could lessen the risk of ever having cancer again. I was stronger, so these surgeries were a lot easier for me to handle.

Cancer takes a physical, emotional, and mental toll on your life and body. I learned it is not the hair, the makeup, the breasts, or the body that defines you. Beauty is truly within. I am more of a woman today because of everything I have gone through. Now more than ever I have so much respect, compassion, and understanding for cancer patients.

 

Cancer is an uphill battle but I am living proof that you can overcome and beat cancer. It was the love and support from family and friends, and the amazing Oncology and surgical team at Yale, that gave me the strength to recover from cancer... and gain my life back.

 

I have a new outlook on life and will never take one day for granted. God has blessed me to be able to share my story, raise my children and continue to help others.

Through In-Home Angels, I intend to share my blessings.

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