Name: Alisa Savoretti
Diagnosed At Age: 38
My reaction when I was first diagnosed: What I remember… It was January 2002, and I was on my way to the NYC gift show. At 8 AM, the call came in … “The biopsy showed positive Alisa, you have cancer.” I don’t think anyone is ever prepared to hear these words. Truth be told, it didn’t really sink in right then as I had a plane to catch. It was numbness and disbelief. I was actually more worried to tell my mom, who had been the caretaker of both her parents and husband until they passed. I was not ready to tell her that now her kid had cancer, too.
How I’m feeling now: This year I am a 10-year survivor. I begin each day with prayer and gratitude and realize how blessed I am, in so many ways. I truly believe cancer was my destiny and have no regrets or “why me” questions. Starting “My Hope Chest” is my purpose for being. Having no children this time around (or a husband yet) provided me the ability to be diligent to the opportunity I have been given to be of service to others.
My inspirations: Individuals who smile through adversity inspire me. People with a positive attitude. People who give of themselves in one way or another inspire me to keep forward motion. Working mothers inspire me. and church, yoga and Joel Olsteen never let me down.
My support system: My faith, family and friends.
I’m proud of: Work that changes lives. My relentless focus to provide the solution to healing breast cancer survivors with reconstruction. The alliances and progress made locally and nationally each year, still without a proper staff or full budget (what amazing things will happen as we grow?!). Staying steadfast to a job that has been the most difficult I have ever tackled as it is out of my comfort zone on many levels and way more than I bargained for 10 years ago.
I’m afraid of: I never fear getting cancer again. I know I am done with that. I do however, teeter often between fear and faith about the success of this important work I have dedicated a decade of my life to. “Birthing” a breast cancer organization with a unique and unmet mission in the “most heavily funded cause” in the country causes daily worry. Each day, however, I hope and pray we are given the “people, places, things and money” to keep helping breast cancer survivors heal to serve our mission properly and eliminate our wait list.
I’ve learned: AC (after cancer), I realize that things truly don’t happen in our time, but in God’s time. I am a believer of the fact that I know little and my worries pale in comparison to others with real worries. We must get up every day and have a cheerful continuance … and know with good heart, all we can ever do is our best.
My advice to new patients: Don’t panic, try to stay in faith and all will be well. Breast cancer is not a death sentence; never give up hope! If along the journey you have questions, find a support group. In the support group you find information, but don’t feed into the “worriers” we each have with our own cancer journey. If your caregivers are challenged, have them find someone to speak to as well.
I encourage survivors not to let cancer define their life going forward. It is merely a “chapter” in the book. Make big plans, and take one day at a time along the road to recovery toward the next chapter! Be kind to those around you and make moments for reflection about your life, what you have learned and how you can grow and become a better human being.