Annamarie Dyment was spending her Fourth of July weekend in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband of 34 years, three children and close friends when she felt a small lump under her arm. Despite having a healthy mammogram seven months before, Annamarie knew she was a genetic cancer carrier for the BRCA gene and feared the worst.
Shortly after that weekend, Annamarie went to a doctor and received further testing. Her worst fears were confirmed. She was diagnosed with Stage 2B Breast Cancer. She immediately went into treatment where she had several rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and finally a mastectomy.
“The scariest part about cancer is the fear of the unknown because at first I really didn’t know anything about it. Without information, your mind makes treatment out to be this horrible thing. I was incredibly lucky that my husband went to every single chemo treatment with me” Annamarie explains.
In her oncologist’s office, Annamarie received a calendar of events from the local Cancer Support Community affiliate, The Wellness Community Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky. She was initially attracted to the Guided Imagery program where she met several other cancer patients and survivors. Led by a nurse practitioner, this weekly relaxation and visualization program guides patients to use progressive muscle relaxation in effort to relax the mind, reduce pain and decrease anxiety. “Guided Imagery was great” says Annamarie. “They teach you how to relax and I used it throughout my surgeries and even after.” Based on her positive experience, she began to regularly attend more programs at the CSC affiliate. She met another woman who was also diagnosed with breast cancer and they began attending breast cancer support groups together.
“We had an unbelievable support group. It started over a year ago with 20 women and we still all go to lunch together regularly and stay in touch through email. I have become best friends with the women I met there and I know we’ll be lifelong friends.” Annamarie recounts. “The support groups were awesome; I never missed a meeting. I know my family loves me but they just don’t understand the emotional part of it like the support groups do. Everyone there is going through the same thing- or they know what is next for you. The sharing of stories is very comforting.”
Annamarie is still an active participant today; she regularly attends yoga, goes to weekly support groups and is moving soon to the graduate group for survivors. She says her goal for the future is to stay informed on cancer so she’s better able to detect for possible reoccurrences, especially because of her family’s cancer gene. She’s proud to announce her mother recently celebrated her 80th
In addition to learning more about cancer, Annamarie wanted to give back after all the support she received and continues to receive. In hopes that sharing her story would help other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, she joined Cancer Survivor Registry: Breast Cancer M.A.P. (Mind Affects Physical) Project.
“A facilitator at the Cancer Support Community affiliate asked me to join and I thought it was a great way to share my experience and I learned that I wasn’t alone and that many other women had the same struggles and feelings that I did” Annamarie explains.
The M.A.P. Project
is a movement to identify and address the emotional and social needs that accompany a breast cancer diagnosis. By joining this first-of-its-kind registry and sharing their breast cancer experience, women have a unique opportunity to help researchers better understand the full impact of breast cancer and ultimately discover innovative ways to improve the cancer journey for millions. Initiated by the Cancer Support Community’s Cancer Survivorship Research and Training Institute, the M.A.P. Project
is made possible through a generous grant from The Breast Cancer Fund of National Philanthropic Trust. For more information or to join the movement, visit the Breast Cancer Registry
The Cancer Support Community affiliate in Cincinnati offers support and networking groups, education workshops, health and lifestyle classes and social activities. To learn more about CSC Cincinnati and their free programs, visit The Wellness Community Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky
To find a Cancer Support Community affiliate near you, click here.