Carrie Sanders got first-hand experience with cancer at only age 19. During this challenging and traumatic period, she decided that she wanted to dedicate herself to live her life with meaning and purpose by entering the medical field. As a psychotherapist, she's created a journal that intends to support women through their journey with cancer.
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A Q&A with Carrie Sanders, author of The Breast Cancer Journey Planner
SheKnows: Please start by telling us about yourself
Carrie Sanders: I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. At 20, I began working as a receptionist in a medical office, the beginnings of a career in the medical field. At 23,
I returned to school at the University of Washington, where I received my Bachelor's degree. In 2004 I received my Master's degree in mental health counseling from Seattle University.
Beating cancerSheKnows: Can you share a little insight in your personal experience with (and triumph over) cancer?
Carrie Sanders: At the age of 19, I had some very unusual physical symptoms that later were diagnosed as Hodgkin's disease (cancer of the lymphatic system). A biopsy and
multiple tests showed a malignant chest tumor the size of dinner plate. I learned I was in Stage 3B, meaning the cancer had spread from my chest to my pelvis. I went through major exploratory
surgery, six months of chemotherapy and three months of radiation therapy. I felt alone, scared, and utterly lost. Despite having many people supporting and caring for me, I realized I had to
pull myself through this very challenging and traumatic experience. I started reading books on how to heal and tried every technique that I learned (no matter how silly or crazy the technique
seemed). It was also during this time that I realized I wanted to help people impacted by cancer make their experience less challenging and far less traumatic. My cancer experience gave me
"the ticket to begin living my life" - to live my life everyday with meaning and purpose.
Advice for the newly diagnosedSheKnows: What are three key things you'd share with someone newly diagnosed with breast cancer?
Carrie Sanders: 1. Increase their self-care techniques to at least once a day, everyday – think of things that you love to do that end with an "ing" to help you
identify your list (reading, walking, meditating, socializing, etc). Before and after each self-care technique, say to yourself, "I am loving and caring for myself right now." The mind
and body positively process this message.
Tips for loved ones of breast cancer survivorsSheKnows: Many of us know a friend or loved one with breast cancer and want to help and be supportive, but often we don't know where to start. What would you recommend?
Carrie Sanders: My recommendations:
• Listen to her fears and concerns, and avoid comparing her experience, situation or her emotional response to others (every woman experience, situation and response is unique).
Sources for more information on breast cancerAmerican Cancer Society
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