The first in a series of stories asking former patients to reflect upon their experience...
During three turbulent days in 2007, Stephanie Hosford, then 37, learned that she was pregnant with her long-awaited second child – and that she had triple-negative breast cancer.
Not long after the diagnosis, Stephanie also discovered that she and her husband, Grant, had been approved to adopt a little girl from China. They proceeded with both plans to expand their family.
"I drew a picture, just in stick figures, of my future family," she told KTLA. "I wrote under it 'The Hosfords' and put it in a frame, then stuck it by my bed. I had this image -- we will be a party of five."
After encountering many physicians who advised them to terminate the pregnancy, the Hosfords found doctors at City of Hope who were confident they could successfully treat Stephanie without harming the baby.
Today, she and her daughter Samantha are thriving, and -- along with Grant, of course -- share their La Canada home with Samantha’s adopted sister, Naomi, and big brother Ethan.
We asked Stephanie to look back at the time of her diagnosis and to ask herself what she knows now that she wishes she'd known then. What wisdom, soothing words, practical tips or just old-fashioned advice would she give her newly diagnosed self?
1. Cancer does not have to mean "the end." There are many, many survivors out there and no reason why you can’t be one of them.
2. Bring someone with you to EVERY appointment who can listen and take notes when you tune out.
3. Only watch TV/movies that make you laugh.
4. Let friends and family help you. They want to but don’t always know what to do. Give them specific tasks (i.e. babysitting on certain days), even if it’s hard for you to ask.
5. Realize you are stronger than you think, but accept that you will have some bad days. You CAN do this.
For more information on breast cancer and treatment, contact City of Hope's Breast Cancer Program.