In Her Words: Amy Berry
August 30, 2018
“I feel a tremendous desire to give back and help others, so I really look forward to that opportunity,” Amy Berry told us as she explained what she’s most proud of from her cancer journey. As a newly certified breast cancer mentor, she aims to help women through their experiences with the illness, just as she did when she was going through treatment two years prior. To learn more about Amy’s diagnosis, her fears, as well as how she’s changed for the better, read our Q&A below.
Name: Amy Berry
Location: Rogers, Minnesota
Current Health Status: Remission
When were you diagnosed with breast cancer?
I was diagnosed at 48. I found the lump while taking a shower. I had no family history. Stage II, ER/PR +, HER2+. For my treatment, I first had 5 months of chemotherapy, followed by a lumpectomy and radiation, followed by another 6 months of Herceptin given every 3 weeks.
What were your first thoughts when you were diagnosed?
Shock, uncertainty, and worried how my family would take the news, especially my kids.
How did your friends and family take the news?
At the time of my diagnosis, it was a bit easier to tell the adults in my life versus my kids. They were only 14 and 11, so I found it very difficult to tell them – I had a lot of fear around that.
Describe your treatment and how you arrived at that course of action.
I had 2 opinions and chose to be treated at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center, a designated cancer hospital. I also participated in the I-Spy 2 clinical trial.
Were you able to work through treatment?
I didn’t work though treatment because I worked in retail. In a retail setting, there are a lot of germs that you are exposed to that can be potentially detrimental, especially when your immune system is already compromised.
Where and how did you find the best care?
At the University of Minnesota hospital and clinics.
Did you receive any additional support or alternative therapies?
I’ve had a lot of support from friends who are also survivors. My Firefly Sisterhood guide/mentor has been a tremendous help.
What or who have been your biggest supports? Who makes up your cancer tribe?
My faith in God, my mom, stepmom, two sisters and best friend, Jenny. I am so fortunate to have all of them on my “team.” In addition to those key people, I had so much support. I feel so blessed by the outpouring of care and love I have received from so many!
What has been one of the most challenging aspects of the experience for you?
I think I struggled the most on an emotional level. I am typically an upbeat, fun person, but breast cancer was difficult and still is now. To this day, I don’t feel like “me.”
What is one thing you wish you knew before you were diagnosed?
I wish I knew how long treatment was going to be.
Is there a particular mantra or inspiration that helps you?
Cliche, but I do love “Fight like a girl”! Many different bible verses were helpful to me also.
If you could offer a woman, who has been newly diagnosed, some words of wisdom for her journey, what would you tell her?
You will amaze yourself with your ability to dig deep inside and find bravery and strength you NEVER knew you had!
What are you most proud of in your cancer journey?
I just became a certified breast cancer mentor with Firefly Sisterhood. They are an amazing Minnesota non-profit that thoughtfully and thoroughly matches women together and provides one-on-one mentoring to newly diagnosed women. I feel a tremendous desire to give back and help others, so I really look forward to this opportunity.
How has breast cancer affected your outlook on life? On illness?
This can be easier said than done, but I try to live each day to the fullest and try not to worry as much!
How have you changed?
I have changed a lot. In some ways for the better, and some for the worse. I am more appreciative of loved ones, the quality time spent with friends and family, and I let them know I love and appreciate them more often than I used to. On the other hand, I do have anxiety and fear around cancer returning in the future. That fear makes me look at each day differently now.