She relied on her instincts to survive an abusive childhood. And she has thrived — an inspiration to all.
Facing Cancer with an Attitude of Gratitude and an Appreciation of Life.
“What started as a routine mammogram led to a diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer,” Bridget remembers. “Suddenly there was a whirlwind of appointments, and a second mammogram which revealed compromised lymph nodes. I underwent a mastectomy, and then ten days later a second surgery to remove the lymph nodes. Sadly, the infected nodes called for chemotherapy and radiation. Finally, came the aftermath…finding a ‘new normal.’ I was fortunate to participate in the Get Real and Heal program at UNC Lineberger Cancer Center, a 5-month intensive exercise and mindfulness program that gives survivors tools to cope and thrive.”
“I learned there that positive thoughts release specific chemicals into the body to support the immune system. Negative thoughts release chemicals that break down immunity. I use techniques to diffuse negative thoughts because if we keep the negative tape running in our head, the brain/body doesn't know the difference and so it's as if those negative things are happening in real time again.”
“In 2014, doctors found the cancer had spread to the liver, thus stage 4. I got advice from UNC and a second opinion from Sloan Kettering. They differed greatly on the prognosis. UNC’s was more data driven and dire, but Sloan Kettering believes I am a special category of stage 4 patient. While my illness is not curable and I may present with new tumors over time, the disease is still treatable. While it would be great if this had never come my way, I am grateful for each and every day.”
“While it would be great if this had never come my way, I am grateful for each and every day.”
“The support of family and friends has meant everything to me. And banishing as many worries as possible is critical too, so the fact that I have a special person assigned to me from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC customer service has helped me maintain peace of mind. My case manager Linda Cates has been by my side to check in, explain costs and benefits, take care of administrative work, and even to get to know my family. This has been a huge help to my husband and relief to me.” Linda says, “What strikes me most about Bridget is she always has an attitude of gratitude and an appreciation of life. I never get a sense of fear or sadness from her, which is so often the case with the people I help.”
How is Bridget living fearless? “I am always mindful of ‘time’ and how to use it,” she says. “Some days I forget about my illness completely, and other days I can feel my body is a ticking time bomb. I take time to enjoy the little things: a new flower in my yard, a bird soaring happily, seeing little kids with ice cream all over their face.”
“My greatest joy is being a mom. I treasure every minute I am with Lily and feel it is my primary job in life to give her unconditional love and tools for success, not to mention fun!! Professionally I’m embarking on a new opportunity as Development Director of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina. I’m raising funds to help save natural lands across the state from the mountains to farms to the sea, so that future generations can chase a butterfly along a mountain stream, pick corn on a family farm or watch baby sea turtles make it to the ocean. I believe that the skills I bring will significantly further the cause and expand the knowledge to NC citizens that we are all in this journey together.”