Is it possible to be happy after cancer? Can you feel feminine and strong after mastectomy? Meet Dorota, who answers YES to these questions! A breast cancer survivor, previously a beneficiary of the foundation, she now lives life to the fullest and finds happiness in helping others suffering from cancer.
How did you find the Alivia Foundation?
I came upon the foundation at a time when I needed financial help after cancer treatment. At first I called a different foundation, which was better-known than Alivia at the time. However, it was impossible for me to become a beneficiary there. Soon after I received Alivia’s contact information. I quickly took care of all the formalities and joined the financial support programme.
What did you do when medical examinations confirmed you had breast cancer?
From the moment of diagnosis I started struggling with questions such as what are the chances of surviving breast cancer, what is the likelihood of relapse, will I be healthy after chemotherapy, or will radiotherapy and rehabilitation be necessary, will I be able to have children, when and where will I be able to get breast reconstruction surgery. Even though I visited many hospitals, my knowledge about cancer was still scarce. I was completely lost.
Fortunately, I had a lot of luck. During my stays at the hospital, many strangers showed me kindness, warmth, and care. After this experience, I truly understand how important another person’s approach is to someone struggling with cancer. At the time, I knew nothing about cancer! I was only 25 and had already undergone two surgeries and was in line for chemotherapy. I had the opportunity to make the decision about surgery and treatment myself. I decided to go for radical mastectomy and chemotherapy “for dessert”.
How did Alivia help you?
As a young woman, I wanted to undergo reconstructive surgery as soon as possible. I underwent three surgeries, and I became a beneficiary of the foundation during the last one. The result of the second surgery was terrible, a hard implant placed directly under my skin, which made me feel awful. The NFZ (national health fund) was only able to refund one surgery, and so my only choice was a private operation. That’s when I contacted The Alivia Foundation, and they’ve been helping me ever since.
Why did you choose to volunteer?
I saw an ad on Facebook, which I do not check very often. It was a complete coincidence that I saw it. I didn’t hesitate, I applied on Friday, and on Monday I became a volunteer. I strive to be truly happy in life, to not regret the things I haven’t done. Since the diagnosis, I re-evaluated my approach to life. I stopped worrying about the little things. I can see that people who have gone through similar troubles can understand me and my outlook. When I received the diagnosis, I struggled to talk about my disease because it evoked such strong negative emotions. I am very sensitive, so every time the topic of my cancer came up my eyes would start to tear up.
Recently, I finally opened up. Now I am aware that nobody really knows when their life will end, and that each moment matters, we just have to learn how to enjoy each and every one of them. I only have one life, health is the priority, and the rest depends on me!