I had a 3 year old daughter and a diagnosis. Inflammatory Breast Cancer, stage IIIc: a rare, aggressive cancer with a 30% 5-year survival rate.
That was 7 years ago.
During my treatment, every decision I made was focused on staying alive and keeping things simple. I wasn't a candidate for immediate reconstruction, and I can't have implants. I had both breasts removed, and it didn't really bother me that much; all I cared about was surviving.
I've "gone flat" for 6 years, and it's been okay. I learned how to buy clothes for my new shape, and I learned to be confident at the gym, at the pool, in job interviews, and at work. I'm so grateful and happy to be alive, and that gives me confidence. Being a survivor gives me confidence. I've been incredibly blessed with the support of a wonderful community, and that gives me confidence and so much strength.
It's 7 years since my diagnosis, and my life has changed so much. My daughter is 11. I'm a single mom. I have a full-time job. I have a lot of new challenges and a busy, happy life. I'm going strong. I'm ready to thrive... not just survive. But I can't do it by myself!
I'm having reconstruction surgery on December 8, and I need your help. The surgery is covered by insurance but there are a lot of expenses that aren't. I'll be away from work for 4-6 weeks, a large part of which will be unpaid. I'll be renting an armchair and buying some special wedges for my bed because I won't be able to lie flat for awhile. And, of course, I'll need all new clothes for my new shape, which is exciting but also daunting; I can't really predict what will work and what won't.
It's hard for me to ask for help, especially because I've received so much help and support already. The past seven years have brought me so much love and so much support... that, more than anything else about cancer, has totally transformed the way I live in the world. I'm grateful beyond words for all the love and kindness I've received from family and friends, doctors and nurses, and even complete strangers. It is both humbling and uplifting. I'm grateful and gobsmacked by the donations, facebook shares, and kind words I've already received. Thank you; I couldn't do it without you, for sure.
- Marianne Baker Bolduc
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