Survivor Story: Rachel Peterson

Survivor Story: Rachel Peterson

Together, Susan G. Komen Greater Iowa represents a community of individuals on every path of the breast cancer journey. From women living with metastatic breast cancer to children who have lost a parent to breast cancer. One group we represent is young women fighting breast cancer. About 11% of new breast cancer cases in the U.S. occur in women younger than 45 years old. One of these cases is Rachel Peterson, a new addition to Susan G. Komen Greater Iowa. This is her story:

I was diagnosed on February 12, 2019 with stage three triple positive breast cancer. With one phone call, my life was divided into “before cancer” and “after cancer.” I was 27, an avid runner, very healthy, and treated my body like a temple. Yet I had been handed this devastating diagnosis. With every scan, doctor’s appointment and devastating piece of information, it felt more and more unfair that I would spend a year of my life fighting cancer.

I completed a year of chemotherapy infusions, had a bilateral mastectomy, and had all the lymph nodes on my left side removed. While this year was excruciating, difficult and contained more loss than most people go through in a lifetime, it was also a year of profound insight and gratitude. I will always call myself one of the luckiest cancer patients. Yes, I was dealt a tough situation, but it wasn’t just me fighting. I was surrounded by friends and family from near and far. I was supported emotionally, physically and financially. There were even t-shirts made with “Ray Ray’s Tribe” to showcase support!

But with every trip to the infusion room, I saw far too many women going through their breast cancer journey alone. They didn’t have a support system. I heard many, many stories of how their breast cancer diagnosis had voided their life savings. I heard heartbreaking stories of women who had no family nearby. I recognized the privilege I had in my journey.

I’m happy to say that I am now living without cancer. I am now navigating the chapter of life that starts once you hear the worlds, “You are cancer free.” In some ways, the aftermath of cancer is more difficult than going through treatment. There is no handbook for how to live after you’ve almost died. There’s no clear cut path to being a young cancer survivor re-learning how to date, work, and live. I’m adjusting to a new normal that is simultaneously beautiful and challenging.

I am why Susan G. Komen Greater Iowa exists. I am the young woman who wants to see breast cancer eradicated in my life time. I am a patient who needed support during and after my journey. I am a survivor who has found a community that understands my journey. But I am just one of the countless reasons why this organization exists. And YOU are one of them.

Yes, Susan G. Komen Greater Iowa exists for you.

Now more than ever, we need our community to rise with us during this global pandemic.

As we shift our biggest fundraising events in lieu of COVID-19, we want to ensure our nonprofit organization has the funds available to keep serving, keep researching, and keep climbing towards our BOLD goal to reduce breast cancer deaths by 50% by 2026.

Help us continue this important work for this beautiful community.

Every dollar raised will be matched by our board of directors and volunteers up to $9,000.

Breast cancer doesn’t stop and neither should we.