Wings of Hope — Danielle Cory
Twenty-three-year-old Danielle Cory was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.
Cancer. When that word stands alone it conjures up visions of uneasiness and anxiety. For those who have experienced its effects, it can bring up deep feelings of fear, sadness, or isolation. Our featured four women, however, have sought to redefine what cancer means. When faced with their own cancer diagnoses, these women reached through the darkness of the word “cancer” to find healing and a more constructive path for themselves. To define their journeys they’ve chosen new words that hold a curative power more motivating than they ever imagined — “support,” “appreciation,” “gratitude,” and “advocacy.”
Meet the third of four women who are . . . Emerging from the Darkness of Cancer and Flying into the Light of Hope.
Date of Diagnosis: May 2018
Age Diagnosed: 23 (now 25)
Type of Cancer: Stage 3 Breast Cancer
Cancer can take hold at any age. This is why at 23 years old, Danielle Cory phoned her OB-GYN’s office to say, “I want a mammogram.” Initially her doctor didn’t feel one was necessary, but the lump in her breast told Danielle otherwise. She “pushed harder” and an ultrasound was scheduled. After that ultrasound, and several more tests, Danielle was right to have advocated for herself. She was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.
“I had a lump in my right breast that had been growing for quite some time,” Danielle says. At first, she went to a nurse practitioner and talked to her about it. “I told her my family’s history of cancer, but I guess she didn’t put two and two together.” The nurse practitioner dismissed it as pulled muscle. After waiting 6 months, Danielle could ignore the growing lump no longer. That’s when she called her OB-GYN.
This experience is why Danielle no longer brushes off the truth her body tells her. “You know your body better than any doctor,” Danielle says. “I think my biggest take-away has been learning to be my own advocate.” Even if it’s as subtle as being more tired, Danielle says she takes note and makes sure her doctor hears her experience. “When there’s something going wrong, you have an intuition because you’re so in-tune with yourself,” Danielle says.
The satisfaction of learning to support her own health became a lesson while undergoing cancer treatments. During the times when she needs a little extra support, her family is there “working in the background.” But this wasn’t her only back-up system. In 2018, Danielle became a member of Gilda’s Club.
Named after famed comedienne Gilda Radner, Gilda’s Club seeks to “ensure those impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community.” Danielle says of the group, “It’s not only the emotional support. There’s been a lot of helpful information that’s come out of it.” She joined Gilda’s Club at the end of her treatment but found such strength in its members she wished she’d joined earlier. “I think if people joined right when they were diagnosed, they could have better emotional outcomes. I’d 100% recommended it to anyone.”
Two years out from her original diagnosis, Danielle doesn’t have any evidence of the disease. She’s continuing to stay in-tune with her health and take advantage of every moment. As Danielle says, “I really just appreciate what I have.”