Roberta Lombardi

Age: Adult
Association: Survivor
Region: Madison, Connecticut
Cancer: Breast Cancer

"The mind can help the body heal, but to do that, you have to be able to have a positive mindset."

I was 49 when I got my diagnosis. Just the word “Cancer” is terrifying and the disease wreaks havoc on you physically and emotionally.  My husband and I were planning something special for my 50th birthday. We thought we would take the entire family to Europe. On my 50th birthday, I was recovering from a mastectomy and in chemotherapy treatment. I was bald with no eyelashes or eyebrows.  Needless to say, we had no European vacation. But on the morning of my birthday, my husband jumped out of bed and got my present. He handed me a small ring box. Inside as an eternity band. I sobbed! I was feeling so bad about myself and yet he was telling me he wanted to be with me for eternity. He was amazing through it all.  It was not until my treatment was over and my hair started growing back that I really saw my illness had done to him. I realized that I was so caught up in what was going on with me, and he was so wonderful to me, that he had been holding it all in. Cancer not only affects the patient but the people that love them as well. I was very lucky to be able to afford treatment without it disrupting my family’s financial security.  But that is not the case for many people. For some patients, there is a choice between a certain treatment and keeping the lights on. Some start out with a savings account and end up bankrupt. There is no cure yet for cancer, but researchers are working hard. Until there is a cure we need to help those individuals who cannot get through treatment on their own. And so now I try to advocate for those who cannot do it for themselves.  I believe that if we lend our support to others in need we can help patients have a more positive outcome. The mind can help the body heal, but to do that, you have to be able to have a positive mindset. Lending support to others can offer them hope.

It made me shift my focus.  In order to heal from everything I have been through, I started focusing on helping others with this disease.  I started a non-profit and a bra company, both focused on helping women who are or have battled breast cancer. Shifting my focus to helping others helped me heal emotionally.