Founder’s Story

Breast Cancer Partner Founder, Rhonda M. Smith

Rhonda M. Smith, Founder Breast Cancer Partner

“I am a survivor.’’
These are four words that I never thought would cross my lips. But in May 2008 I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer.

To say that I was shocked is an understatement. After all, I have always been physically active and fit and, althoughnot perfect, I was mindful about my eating habits. I did all the right things, at least it seemed that way. So, why me?

Who knows the answer? But breast cancer was a major wake-up call. Going through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, then getting my life back on track are among the most challenging things I’ve had to endure.

I made it through my treatment with ease, relatively speaking, thanks in large part to my team of professionals that was responsible for my medical care and overall health and wellness. I relied on a conventional medical team — my surgeon, oncologist and radiology oncologist — for cancer treatment; I worked with a nutritionist and a doctor of integrated medicine to develop a “health and wellness plan” to combat any ill effects from all the drug therapies. Taking a holistic approach during my treatment process, along with exercise, helped me stay strong and healthy and minimized the severity of the typical side effects of breast cancer treatment.

Once treatment was over I assumed that I could resume my life as I knew it, pick up where I left off and just move forward.

However, it wasn’t that simple. Life after breast cancer treatment was more challenging than I anticipated, primarily because I couldn’t function, physically and mentally, at the same high level as before.

In the beginning, I had to overcome the “chemo brain,’’ a frustrating and scary experience to say the least. But as time progressed I realized that I wasn’t able to do the same things in the same way that I used to. I had far less energy and stamina than before. I felt debilitated.

I didn’t understand what was going on at first. Then it dawned on me: “Holy crap, I had cancer. Now, what do I do with my life? How do I get over this? What do I do to stay strong and healthy? How do I prevent a recurrence?’’

I went back to what I learned during treatment: Taking a holistic approach to my health and well-being can help me stay strong and healthy indefinitely. It would be the key to help me recover from treatment, restore myself back to normal and reenergize myself so that I could not only survive but thrive after treatment.

I have learned many things from my breast cancer experience and made changes to my life accordingly: minimizing stress, taking care of the “whole” me and controlling the things that I can in order to live a long, healthy and prosperous life.

But, the most important thing that I have learned is that optimizing my health and wellness and living a healthier lifestyle will not only keep me strong and healthy, but will also lower the chance of recurrence and any other threats to my health.

Maybe, in some ways, breast cancer was one of the best things to happen to me. I feel strong, I feel healthier than ever before and I feel empowered because I live a more holistic lifestyle.

I am inspired to share my learnings with other breast cancer survivors in hope that you will incorporate positive health and wellness practices into your way of living and being throughout your life. It works for me — perhaps it can work for you.

Live healthy, live strong as you Recover, Restore, and Reenergize Your Life!

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  • Yvonne Barnes (Gomes)

    Hello Rhonda,

    It’s Yvonne (Billy’s ex wife). I just wanted to reach out to you to say Congratulations. I love what you are doing and I am so glad that Billy shared this with me. Can you believe it’s been 15 years for me…I am a 15 year survivor. I would love to talk to you.

  • rhondasmith

    Hi there, how are you? Thanks for reaching out and I’m glad you like the website and associated activities. I’m free on Thursday afternoon if you want to talk. My cell is 305-812-2573.

    Speak soon!

  • The whole ‘Cancer-Thang’ has a mystique of its own. Referring to Rhonda’s story, we can see that cancer isn’t a Death-Sentence. Yet the C-word stokes fear into the bravest of hearts.

    I’ve heard it said from women that the worst fear to have is to lose one’s breast–my man won’t love me without…

    My thoughts are that cancer should be viewed from a perspective of a serious malady…period. No worse, nor better than any other major medical disease. Yet easy for me to say that–I’m cancer-free.

    My hope is that should I have to face a cancer, that I will draw upon the path of others. Living with the knowledge that a cancer is just that…A Cancer; not a death sentence.

  • rhondasmith

    You’re so right Andre. You don’t have to live your life with a dark cloud over your head just because you had/have cancer. It can be the start of a new beginning and inspire you to live life with a whole new meaning.

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