Name: Laurie Jewett
Background: Single mother of two teenagers, 14 and 13; works in sales/leadership for a technology company; active runner and triathlete.
Breast cancer diagnosis: Jewett came inside after a run, was changing her clothes and discovered changes in her breast. She didn’t think too much of it, as she had some benign breast issues previously.
“I always do monthly self-exams, but, because of my age, hadn’t begun any recommended yearly mammogram screenings yet,” said Jewett, who was 39 at the time.
She went in for her annual physical, and the doctor said it was probably nothing. But Jewett was tested, returning a diagnosis of an invasive form of breast cancer.
Experience with breast cancer: Jewett found out she had a form of cancer caused by an overly aggressive expression of estrogen. Her treatment protocols included months of chemotherapy and radiation, as well as a medically induced menopause to keep the estrogen attack at bay.
“That’s how my cancer was growing,” she said.
The early onset of menopause also caused Jewett’s body to behave as if it were much older, resulting in issues such as arthritis.
After receiving an all-clear diagnosis, Jewett said that she needed a year of intravenous treatment and still goes in for injections every few months to basically keep the cancer “shut down.”
“So, I’m still in treatment,” she said.
What advice would you share with others?: “It is important to practice self-care and to do regular self-exams to keep track of any changes in your breasts,” she said.
“I was very physical, running before, during and after, and still doing it. It was a key thing. You have to be healthy, you have to take care of yourself. It’s not just an older woman’s disease. It can affect younger women.”
Jewett points out positive strides today, with more people taking care of themselves and more early detection. But 1 in 8 women will still get breast cancer.
“It has nothing to do with age, race or color. It’s not going to go away, and early detection is key,” she said. “Nothing is promised to us.”
How has your cancer diagnosis changed you?: “Cancer rocks your world in a bad way, but I decided I’ve got no choice but to live,” Jewett said.
“We are human. I look at everything differently than I have, I’m more self-aware, I have more of an appreciation for just being. Attitude is key.”
Throughout her cancer treatment and still to this day, Jewett participates in the annual Tri for a Cure triathlon for women in South Portland, Maine.
“I do it every year, for six years straight, with my chemotherapy nurse,” she said.
“I did it while I was sick. I swam with survivors. I am hoping to bring something like this to Massachusetts and New Hampshire.”
Jewett said that when she first heard that she had cancer, it was the worst news. And hearing her cancer was gone was the best.
“I’ve got no choice but to live,” she said. “You are not concerned about time, and I’ve been given a new opportunity.”