Confronting Breast Cancer: It Takes a Village

“This unbelievably difficult journey has been a reminder that life truly is short, to value each day and to cherish the important people in my life.” – Sara Schulz

I am a breast cancer patient and survivor. When I was diagnosed with stage-3 triple negative breast cancer in November 2011, my family and my “village” were crucial to getting through this difficult time. My son was 2 years old at the time and he and my family were my light as I went through treatment.

The Love of Parents

As a single parent by choice, I relied on family and friends for caregiving assistance and support. My parents were at every doctor’s appointment, every procedure, every test and every chemotherapy. They spent one to two nights with us after each chemotherapy treatment to help with my son and assist me as needed. After every surgery, my son and I lived with my parents since I was unable to drive, unable to physically lift my son or care for him. My parents took my son to and from preschool every day when we lived with them to keep his world as familiar as possible.

It extended beyond my immediate circle. Neighbors, aunts and uncles rallied around my parents. My dad’s brothers and cousins were always in the waiting room during any surgery I had. My mom’s good friend kept in touch with her. People sometimes forget about the caregiver in these situations. The fact that people remembered them as well was really touching and helpful.

Friends and Family Pitch In

During my journey, CaringBridge has been a wonderful communication tool. It has allowed me to keep people updated and allowed others to provide updates on my behalf when needed. I receive such encouragement from reading guestbook messages from family and friends.

My family, friends and colleagues provided meals and meal services, offered assistance with errands, house cleaning, play dates for my son, and stayed in touch via visits, phone, email, text and cards. One friend sent special things just for my son, including homemade treats and small toys.

During my journey, CaringBridge has been a wonderful communication tool.

My sister came from out of town to be with me during my cancer surgery. My brother, also out of town, stayed in close touch.

Someone in my village signed me up for Give a Touch of Hope. So I started getting cards and little gifts in the mail from an anonymous volunteer who was also a breast cancer survivor and knew just what I needed at just the right time. Truly amazing.

My Turn to Give Back

A fellow survivor friend mentored me during my cancer journey. My support group wrapped their arms around me. I’m part of a fantastic breast cancer support group that meets monthly, and I’ve had the opportunity to mentor a breast cancer patient through this group.

This unbelievably difficult journey has been a reminder that life truly is short, to value each day and to cherish the important people in my life.

Are You or a Loved One Facing a Health Journey?

Start a CaringBridge website today to connect your own village of family and friends.

Comments (83)

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Terri cartwright Oct 29, 2018 4:53pm
I was diagnosed with breast cancer both breast Sept 3rd triple neg, I have 4cm mass left stage 4 and a 2cm mass right,. No stage,. Had a bone scan and CT scan today,. If signs of cancer in other areas no surgery, chem right away,. Hardest party of this journey is waiting for tests and dates to see Dr,. If no signs dible mastectomy Nov 6th. I'm very nervous if my results this wk
Lillie Oct 24, 2018 4:09pm
Diagnosed with triple negative cancer stage to May 2 had lumpectomy with three lymph nodes removed.....thanking the good Lord all cancer had been killed by of Oct 10 I am cancer free... God is good.., Pray trust and believe!
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Carol Williams Apr 09, 2015 12:42pm
Father God, we come to You in the name of Jesus Christ. We believe all that You have promised and we are here to claim it in Jesus name. Lord, we believe that You have created this world by Your Word and we believe that the Word has power and we are here to acknowledge it right now. As Your Word says "by His stripes we are healed", I command healing in Jesus name. Let Your Word be accomplished right now. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Tangela Ryan..aka Tangie L. Cordle. Mar 06, 2015 3:44am
Sara, your story is,such an inspiring one. I was diagnosed with triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma on February 6,2015. I had a lumpectomy on Feb 20. 15 lymph nodes were removed and 13 came back positive. Mine is now stage 3 grade B. I look forward to reading stories like yours in hopes that mine will turn out as happy. I have set a Caring Bridge account ( hopefully I did it right) and I hope that my friends and others will begin lifting my spirits a bit. Thank you for sharing your story.
Greg B. Feb 22, 2015 11:19am
Continuing to pray God's Best for you as you continue to spread Hope to all through your life and testimony.
Catherine Sullivan Feb 15, 2015 10:06pm
Sara- I hope things are going well for you now. I am also a breast cancer survivor, now involved with fighting ovarian cancer. Only faith and a good support community get you through an experience such as you have had. May all go well for you!
Linda Feb 10, 2015 1:38pm
Sara, I am so glad that you have wonderful family to help you through your trying times. Family and caring people are always needed if only to listen. Caring makes a world of difference in bad situations. I have a very good support system and I thank God for it, I know you do also. It truly does take a village...
Carol Feb 10, 2015 5:01am
Everything of good to you ❤️, everything of GOD to you ❤️❤️
heather landskron Feb 08, 2015 8:17pm
just wanted to say hi.!!
Lynn Childers Feb 08, 2015 7:08am
So happy to hear you are doing well, and I pray you are totally healed in the name of Jesus,enjoy your son and family as you are in your way to a full life and full recovery
Maria Sorensen Feb 07, 2015 3:48pm
You are so amazing. You are the prize. You are my inspiration to face my fears and fight to overcome any tribulation. You are my testimony that God is real and that He performs miracles everyday.
Marcia Feb 07, 2015 12:08pm
Sara, you've brightened a grey and snowy day! (Actually, it's quite nice out if you don't mind the cold.) Your courage and the courage, wisdom and love of those around you are truly remarkable. Must say, too, that CARING BRIDGE is also remarkable. I've had several occasions to engage in their 'ministry'. bless you and your son, ........marcia
Ray Edwards Feb 06, 2015 1:26pm
Hi Sara, I am breathing a prayer for you right now as I type this message. I have had to retire from the pastorate, but not from preaching, praying and serving the Lord in quite ways not seen by others. We are part of God's great Kingdom and one day we will be completely healed and together we will sing the song of the redeemed. Amen and amen!!.
roxy hakeneis Feb 06, 2015 11:32am
congrats to you sara for the good fight. and lucky you for the family help. just had a 62 year old sister, rhonda sell die from cancer on dec.10th. was sad to watch. she smoked for many, many years and then quit and they found the cancer. thought she was gonna win the battle but didn't. we have a hugs family and we prayed and prayed but just her time. so glad for you that you have this chance. take care of yourself and family. god bless, roxy hakeneis
Charlotte Dorsey Feb 06, 2015 11:28am
Hi Sara, would love to be apart of your village.
Lula Parman Feb 05, 2015 9:43pm
Praise our Lord for His graciousness in His dealing with you during your distress. We serve a great God and Father that is always there for all of but especially for His children, We are precious to Him and He cares for us as you do with your son only He is able to do so much more than we. Keep praising our Lord and Savior and spread the good News. In His Name---Lula
lindareigel Feb 05, 2015 3:35pm
sara i enjoyed reading your story you are an amazing lady please write back god bless
shahbul alam Feb 04, 2015 10:46pm
Appreciated your mail! Please keep in touch about your health and treatment.
Shirely Feb 04, 2015 4:11pm
Hi Sara! I am happy to see that you have got much help from the people around. I dont think I need to cheer you up because you've done a good job. I just want to tell you that I am caring about you and I do want to help you as possible as I can. As a 17 year old student in Hohhot ,Inner Mongolia , China, I really want to make friends with you and your little cute son. I am about to support you when you are upset and feel not good. If you're willing to make friends with a Chinese girl, I'll be so happy. Besides, also I want to say thank you to you for you give too much energy to me! In a word, we can be in a big family! (I am not good at English and I do not know how to express myself well. ) Anyway, I love you!
Crissy Hartness Feb 04, 2015 12:32pm
My prayers are with you and your family. God bless you :)
Rukundo Etienne Feb 04, 2015 10:42am
Thank you for your story. God bless you.
Carole Morrison Feb 04, 2015 9:48am
Dear Sara, Know that today is only one day, not a lifetime, your struggles will not go unnoticed and your life will reflect only good things. Know He is in control of all things, it took me several years to realize this very important idea. But once I did, everything is now at peace. I am praying that strength will be sustained and realize you are never alone. Keep your chin up and fight on. Love,
John Lehman Feb 04, 2015 9:11am
I don't know you Sara, but I wish you well.
Pete-Leukemia survivor Feb 04, 2015 8:55am
Hi Sara, I love your attitude!!! I'm a cancer survivor and know that we encourage many others who are fighting the battle now. May God bless your outreach and endeavors, your fellow cancer survivor, Pete. p.s. Your parents and friends rock too! I'm so happy for you. I'm also happy that your young boy gets to "keep" his mommy!...what a precious gift. I really do understand "survival": God's great gift...among many.
Anne Kroll Feb 04, 2015 8:29am
Can i donate some handmade afghans to Sara's village if so how?
karen Sieg Feb 04, 2015 7:43am
Hope and pray all is going well for you. glad you had and have family to help and care and friends that care. I know with just our little things our family has had it is very nice when they are around. I write to a friend through caring bridge that has been bed ridden for a couple years now and she can go home now with lots of help. she can sit up in a chair now. I just keep praying for her and her family.
Katherine Payne Feb 04, 2015 7:32am
Go bless you, Sara! Hang in there!
Linda Kellner Feb 04, 2015 5:52am
I am touched by your story. I was diagnosed in November 2014 with her2/Neu breast cancer. Two weeks later I began chemotherapy and I have two more sessions before I wait before the six weeks for the surgery. After that radiation I look forward to being cancer free this summer. I have A network of support like you do and I find that people's faith in me and belief that I am strong and I'm an inspiration gets me through every day. I wish you all the best ...stop by my posts if you have a second! Best of luck to you. Sending positive thoughts and well wishes .best regards-
John Boykin Feb 04, 2015 5:51am
What a wonderful, caring story! My prayers and encouragement are being sent you and your village.
Linda Kellner Feb 04, 2015 5:50am
I am touched by your story. I was diagnosed in November 2014 with her2/Neu breast cancer. Two weeks later I began chemotherapy and I have two more sessions before I wait before the six weeks for the surgery. After that radiation and I look forward to being cancer free this summer. I have A network of support like you do and I find that people's faith in me and belief that I am strong and I'm an inspiration gets me through every day. I wish you all the best ...stop by my posts if you have a second! Best of luck to you. Sending positive thoughts and well wishes .best regards-
Gail Thurman Feb 03, 2015 10:37pm
I. Am praying for you tonight. I am glad you have a good support system.
Jeanette Westfall Feb 03, 2015 10:24pm
You are an inspiration to women that have gone through and are going through this tuff time. God Bless you Sara, and your whole family.
Dick Stender Feb 03, 2015 9:37pm
It is so inspiring to read of someone who believes in "bouncing the blessings," letting them fly off to be received by others in need, I wish you more blessings and good health.
Cecilia Feb 03, 2015 9:05pm
God bless you Sara. Thank you for sharing your most inspirational journey. It will certainly prove to be uplifting to all who are fortunate to read it.
Marquita Smith Feb 03, 2015 9:04pm
Continue to have that constant faith and motivation to live life. I currently work in the hospital on the Oncology floor. I'm really appreciative and thankful everyday for what I have and what I strive for. I see the struggle of others on a day to day basis but are still in a happy place so it makes me see the strong will and determination some have in them. Keep being the person you are and things shall keep looking up for you.
Elaine Feb 03, 2015 8:52pm
HI Sara. Hope all is well.
Evelyn Feb 03, 2015 8:35pm
Sara, God is Great and answers prayers...we will go through the valleys of life but with Faith in God and his Magnificent Power and Plan, beyond our imagination He will bless us. Your faith and love for God shines through in your journey and may it be a light to all those who read! God is not finished with you! God Bless You!
Becky Pataki Feb 03, 2015 8:34pm
Sara, I was fortunate to read you site and I am glad for your remission. I am a breast cancer survivor and was fortunate to have a lumpectomy; radiation; and tomaxifen (5 yrs) and femara (5 years)... I am 65 and was 50 when I was diagnosed. May God Bless you and your family.
Jessica Feb 03, 2015 8:23pm
Hi Sara ... Praying for your healing ... God is Good ...
Diane Erbeznik Feb 03, 2015 8:06pm
Hi Sara, I learned of Caring Bridge recently when a dear friend became very ill after undergoing surgery. I know how much he will appreciate all the kind words and prayers as he recovers. You are a strong woman! As a single mother myself, I know how hard your job is. It's worth it!
Amanda Feb 03, 2015 7:24pm
I loved your comment about how it takes a village to get through something- it's so true! Sharing your story will expand your village even more! (hugs)
Danyel Mahaffey Feb 03, 2015 7:24pm
Best wishes Ms. Sara! You are in my prayers.. The Lord WILL take care of you He loves you and you are so special to Him! Keep on the bright side!!! :)
philomena Feb 03, 2015 7:20pm
Sara many blessings to you and family. Thank God for your community. My sister lost her battle 12 years ago and today her youngest. I raised turned 18 today so you are very fortunate to be around for your son
Karen Dahl Feb 03, 2015 7:16pm
Hi Sara, So good to see you're doing well and look at that Richard, they grow up so fast. Best wishes to you, stay well. Karen
Mario Feb 03, 2015 7:15pm
Sara I have also cancer policythemia vera. For the last 4 years and 6 months I take quimio every Friday. I still alive and I hope you and me will find the remission soon. God is with us
Tommy Feb 03, 2015 7:01pm
Wishing you and your family all of the very best that life has to offer Sara....
Robin Lancaster Feb 03, 2015 6:59pm
Wow your story hit home for me. What a amazing support system you have. Ready to step up and help you out. I was diagnosis with stage 3 Ovarian Cancer in 2008. I don't even remember my first year. I had Family and Friends near by that stepped up to help and pray. Cancer cells continue to pop up and have to have chemo but keep telling myself I can do it. God Bless and thanks for sharing your story.
JoAnne Feb 03, 2015 6:54pm
May God continue to bless you with improved health and a strong support team. I will remember you in my prayers. Always trust God. Always pray. He listens and loves us dearly.
Missy Fink Feb 03, 2015 6:44pm
God Bless You Sara and your Family !! I pray for all that are going through treatment and their Families !!! Remember with God all things are possible !!!
Cato Heinz Feb 03, 2015 6:28pm
Dear Sara. Congratulations on your efforts and stay strong. Enjoy your son and have so much fun, love and appreciation watching him grow.
Brenda Quarles Feb 03, 2015 6:10pm
Sara, Your journey was so touching that I had to comment and tell you how proud I am of you, your son, your family and your vlliage. God truly has blessed you through it all. I feel that God is preparing you for a greater journey because of yur faithfulness. He has prepared and equipped you for such a time as this. Enjoy your second chance and continue to Give God the Glory for all the Great things that he is about to do in your life. Thank you for sharing.
Patricia Caudill Feb 03, 2015 5:35pm
Beautiful story of courage, compassion, and will to survive and live!! God Bless you, Sara, and your family of caregivers!!
Brian Dzimbiri Feb 03, 2015 5:27pm
That is really a touching story Sara. Thanks for sharing it and I wish you and your family and those who supported you during this difficult time all the best. We may not be together physically but in Prayers we will always be. Thank you
Beverly Feb 03, 2015 5:20pm
God Bless you on your journey to good health for you and the family who needs you.
Fred Ford Feb 03, 2015 5:19pm
I terri stay strong with the lord and your family. l will be praying fpr you and put your name in our community pray team. god bless fred
mark jordan Feb 03, 2015 5:01pm
Sara: Thank you for sharing your wonderful story! During my Stage 4 Testicular cancer struggle,My friends and family were my rock! Life is short and I cherish every day. Mark
Cher Goubeaux Feb 03, 2015 4:22pm
Hi Sara, I have another friend on the bridge with end stage brain cancer, she is doing really well with the skills she still has, just wanted to say God Bless and keep up the good work In God there is Hope, Cher Goubeaux. ps. I am a fifteen year bladder cancer survivor
Donna Jones Feb 03, 2015 3:45pm
Hi Sara, May God bless you and I pray for complete healing and peace as you and your family go through this trial.
Bev Johnson Feb 03, 2015 3:39pm
Congratulations on fighting the big fight and coming out a winner. You are truly an inspiration!
Dan Waldschmidt Feb 03, 2015 1:49pm
By Dan Waldschmidt — February 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm Keep your head held high and remember life’s a garden, dig it.
Ed Paz Feb 03, 2015 12:57pm
Dear Sara, You are truly an inspiration. I have been battling stage 4 cancer for nearly three years now and have found, as you did, that friends and family can be such wonderful support. I have beat the lung cancer, but I have just found that it has metastasized to my right hip. I am under the care of our local hospice chapter now, and the wonderful staff there is indispensable. They treat me as though I were a member of their family, each of them. I have every intention to continue my battle and to keep working with the less fortunate for as long as I can. Your recovery will be my inspiration. May God bless you and your wonderful family.
Sheri Feb 03, 2015 12:42pm
Sara, just wanted to say hi. Praying for you and your family during this time.
Sister Leonarda Feb 03, 2015 12:39pm
Our prayers are with you, your family, and all of your friends. God bless you all-ways!!!
Jim Zimmerman Feb 03, 2015 12:32pm
God Bless you and your Family. Continue on life's journey
Donna Roberts Feb 03, 2015 12:31pm
Bless you Sara!! I too, was diagnosed with stage 2 - triple negative breast cancer and went through surgeries and very aggressive treatment. 5 years this coming November, 2015. Praise God for His healing grace and all those many good words, thoughts and prayers lifted up in my name. By faith, I stand with you and on the Word of are healed in Jesus Name. Be blessed!!!
Grace Feb 03, 2015 11:34am
I BELIEVE in having your family , good friend And Prayers to get you threw your darkest days of treatment. And I BELIEVE that is what got my sister - in - law Sarah threw her darkest days. She was diagonal with Stage Four Breast Cancer a few years ago and is now CANCER FREE...... And resent Doctors visit STILL IS CANCER FREE. A TRUE MIRACLE IN MY BOOK. So Prayer and having your family and friends close by DOES WORK.
Oh I forgot to tell you the gifts are free and your smiles are infectious.
Awesome story I loved reading it. I just had to come and see what all that happiness was about that I saw in the picture of you and your son. I have groups that make things for cancer patients and I embroider special messages of love on them. Gifts are so needed in times of going through illnesses to let them know how valuable they are to us. Giving to others is imperative to those that have sowed into our lives now we can sow into their lives. God Bless you and your son I will never forget the smiles on both of your faces that lit up the page. Keep smiling your joy, love, and happiness is shining brightly. Love it1
Susan Reid Feb 03, 2015 10:40am
Hi How are your or your sons treatments for cancer going? And please keep sending me pictures of you or your son And updates on how your or your sons cancer treatments are Going as much as you can.My email address is Susan Reid7@ thank you.
Lorraine Iversen Feb 03, 2015 10:40am
My daughter had stage 4 ovarian cancer 7 years ago. Caring Bridge was suc a help to us as we did not live in her area. I am so thankful that you have done so well. May the Lord bve with you as you walk day by day with Him. God Bless
Patricia Hawes Feb 03, 2015 10:17am
God bless!
Sandra Skytte Feb 03, 2015 9:50am
Sara, God has blessed you and given you hope, you are his instrument to others, by your faith, you are loved by so many around you. My best friend is a two time survivor of breast cancer, I prayer she continues in good health, as I will for you.
Carol Feb 03, 2015 9:47am
As a breast cancer survivor who had a 6 yr old son at the time I can truly relate to your story. Since that time 27 yes ago I have had another episode of breast cancer but am alive and living a full life. My son is now 32, graduated from college, working and married. I have enjoyed witnessing all of these events. I wish you the same good fortune. It sounds like you have a wonderful support system to help you through your journey in life. I wish the best for you. Stay strong!
Lori gattis Feb 03, 2015 9:22am
Sending prayers your way for a healthy and happy future for you and your family
clay honeycutt Feb 03, 2015 9:19am
God Bless and Praying daily for all with this terrible disease, and Praying for the Family's every day.
Anne Feb 03, 2015 9:00am
Sara,I am so thankful you are doing well and being an inspiration to others. Family and friends are wonderful. You are a strong lady,may Gods' love and comfort richly bless you and your precious son
Connie Feb 03, 2015 8:46am
Sara, what a touching story. God blessed you with so much support from family, friends and people you didn't know. I praise God that you are a cancer survivor and that you are now helping others.
Don Dupre Feb 03, 2015 8:23am
Good morning Sara, I just wanted to say Hi.
Laura Deshler Lambert Feb 03, 2015 8:21am
Sara - thank you for sharing your story! We were in a class together at St. Kate's and I have followed your story ever since your diagnosis, silently cheering you on through your CaringBridge site. I am so happy to hear you are doing well and that you continue to share your journey with other women and families going through similar experiences. You are truly an inspiration!
Sara Jan 24, 2015 7:11am
Hi Terri, I'm thinking of you and praying for you as your journey begins. If I can be of support to you please let me know and Michelle Van Engen will connect us. It sounds like you are also blessed with a village of support which is wonderful. Take the journey one day at a time and take good care of yourself. Sara
Terri Pearson Jan 22, 2015 8:14am
Sara, Your story jumped out to me...I have the same diagnosis. I am just going to begin treatment next week. I KNOW I wouldn't have made it even this far if it wasn't for the prayers and support of loved ones and friends. You have given me hope. Thank you
    Michelle Van Engen Jan 22, 2015 12:55pm
    Hi Terri, On behalf of the CaringBridge team, we wish you the best on your treatment. We're so glad that you've felt uplifted by your family and friends' encouragement. Best wishes, Michelle, CaringBridge