October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Thousands around the world will rally to fundraise and bring awareness to this disease. Many survivors, many who are battling and many who have lost loved ones to this cancer, will come together in positivity to help others fighting the same battle. Over 266,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
This year, Charlotte Shaff, a valley resident and local entrepreneur is one of those statistics. Charlotte runs her own public relations business, The Media Push. She started her business in 2005 and her goal is to promote her clients as experts in their industry. She believes that small businesses can be very successful and sometimes they just need help marketing their craft.
“I love to help tell people’s stories and promote their expertise,” Charlotte shared. “I work from home online and through social media to represent and help promote many small businesses in the Valley. I’m a work-at-home mom raising my two boys, nine-year-old Jake and seven-year-old Eric.”
Charlotte was diagnosed with breast cancer in April of this year. The diagnosis came after a reluctant and well overdue visit to her doctor.
“My husband was going through paperwork one day on my desk and saw a few notes from my doctor telling me to schedule an appointment for a mammogram. They had been piling up and I kept putting it off,” Charlotte said. “Well, that day, my husband pulled those notes out and put a sticky note on top that simply said ‘I love you.’ He was trying to very kindly tell me that it was time to schedule my mammogram.”
“I had some biopsies done and my doctor just told me that it didn’t look good. At that point I got worried. I asked her, ‘How many times do people leave here without cancer?’ My doctor just looked at my scans and then at me and said, ‘I would be surprised if you didn’t.’ At that moment, I felt it was real and that I was about to be diagnosed.”
A couple days later, Charlotte received the call that they had found three tumors, two of which were cancerous.
Charlotte has always been very open and social, given the importance of networking and social promoting involved with her job. Her diagnosis felt no different. She thought it was important to share her experience with others.
“I share much of my life on social media,” said Charlotte. “I’ve been trying to share my cancer journey in an open and transparent way without scaring people. So I took to the internet to address women over 40 and urged them to get their mammograms. If I kept ignoring my doctor’s orders, I would have missed this diagnosis. Would the cancer have spread? Would it be too late to treat? How many women ignore their doctor’s orders? How many put off a mammogram?”
People tend to be scared of the unknown. People also tend to avoid tough topics, such as cancer. That is why Charlotte is sharing her experience; to make the battle a bit easier for people to learn about so there are less unknowns. She also wants women to know they are not alone and there are plenty like them going through the same journey.
Charlotte ended up having a double mastectomy to reduce the risk of getting cancer again. The doctors ended up finding five cancerous tumors. She has Stage 2A cancer, but did not need chemo due to the early detection and advancements in cancer treatments; however, she did undergo radiation and will then need hormone therapy. She is currently in recovery which she said has not been an easy path. She had a great support system to help her though, including friends and neighbors who provided many meals, family members and summer camp helped with her kids and her husband who luckily encouraged her to see a doctor in the first place and was her patient advocate. Her husband is also a physician assistant and was very understanding of her medical needs. He also was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was young but made it through and is a huge blessing to Charlotte.
“If he can live through brain cancer, I can live through breast cancer,” Charlotte said defiantly. “I have found that a positive mindset truly does help. The more negative you are, the more miserable you feel. Ladies, do not ignore your doctors. Go get your mammograms. Take care of yourself and know there is always support. For more information log onto, www.cancer.org For more information Charlotte, head over to www.themediapush.com.
By: Rebecca Kaye
Rebecca Kaye has written many stories throughout the valley and enjoys having the ability to share community news, journeys and achievements. Holding a Bachelor of Music, Rebecca’s favorite place to be is the stage. Having been a singer all her life, Rebecca is now in pursuit of a professional performing career, singing pop and musical theatre (rebeccakayemusic.com). Visit her on YouTube to see her latest music videos. She is also an avid photographer and enjoys taking pictures as a hobby. Check her out at Rebecca Kaye Photography (rebeccakayephoto.wix.com/rebeccakaye). Rebecca can be found spending her free time exploring and traveling with her family..