Daniela’s Journey: From Stage 1B Invasive Duct Carcinoma to 5-Year Cancer Thriver

My name is Daniela, and I am 45 years old. There is no easy way to tell a story about your cancer journey. Although they say time heals all wounds, I still sense myself mending from that trauma, a sentiment I believe many of my fellow cancer survivors share. Nevertheless, I wish to share my story, as it is one of triumph, and I hope it serves as inspiration for other women.

The Unimaginable Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with Stage 1B Invasive Duct Carcinoma on November 15th, 2018. The moment I learned the devastating news couldn’t have come under any worse circumstances. At the time, I was a Commercial and Event Manager working for De Beers, the biggest diamond mining company in the world, and a senior year straight-A student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, majoring in Forensic Psychology. It is important to add that three months before the diagnosis, I had met the love of my life, Steven, a humble and wonderful man who is now my husband. As a person, I have always been the “bubbly” Daniela, the girl who always smiles, cracks sarcastic jokes, and is the soul of all parties. Cancer was to take away that from me, for quite a long time. I had a lumpectomy and underwent 20 sessions of what they called “targeted radiotherapy,” and was prescribed to take Tamoxifen for the next 5 years.

Navigating the Challenges of Cancer Treatment

At that time, I was still brave, thinking that I could do it all – school, work, and treatment. Turns out, I was fooling myself. Between the amalgam of emotions that overwhelmed me, the stress from the job, the intensity of my classes, and the side effects from my treatment, I felt exhausted and powerless. I was now feeling the wrath of this frightening disease named CANCER. I was a little girl standing before its tumult and shattering impact. My bravery paled before this seemingly insurmountable illness. It finally struck me – I was sick. I was compelled to withdraw from classes, had lost my job, and found myself mentally depleted. For months, I had not been able to smile, had cried my eyes out, lost a lot of weight, and I could barely recognize myself.

The Lessons and Tolls of Cancer

Cancer is not a singular act – cancer comes with learnings and takes many tolls, especially in the relationships one has with others. However, this is no sad story. It’s a story of self-discovery and great strength. I learned a lot about myself and the people in my life during my journey, but most importantly, I learned that, at the end of the day, the power to push through lies within us. And, if there is anything cancer taught me, it is how strong I truly am. As I healed from the trauma, more opportunities began to present themselves: I got a new job, resumed my classes, and ultimately graduated “cum laude” in May 2021. And all my blessings did not stop there! I am now a thriving 5-year cancer survivor, having recently launched my own business, DiCuore Diamonds. I design and sell bespoke fine jewelry. Di cuore, means ‘from within the heart’ in Italian, and that really captures the essence of my passion for custom jewelry. I often reflect on how surviving cancer has been the main catalyst for all the recent positive developments in my life. I am done with Tamoxifen, I have a happy marriage, we bought a new house, and most importantly, I am healthier than ever. Finally, I feel that cancer is truly behind me—a distant experience in my past.

Embracing a New Life Purpose

I believe that my cancer had a purpose and that purpose was to show me a new Daniela, a “me” who I now love and accept for who she is; a new me who does not seek to prove anything but to be alive, healthy, and happy. To be completely honest, I do not want to go back to the old Daniela. The old Daniela had felt invincible, frantically seeking self-betterment, as if she was never enough to herself or others. None of that mattered when I got cancer, and now I know that.

Gratitude for the Lessons Learned

This may sound like a cliché, but I am grateful to cancer because it taught me how important I am to myself and showed me how precious life truly is. Cancer taught me mortality, took me to the edge of death, and brought me back to a richer and more purposeful new life.

Learn Look Locate: A Supportive Community for Cancer Survivors

Daniela’s transformative journey is a shining example of the strength and resilience that lies within every cancer survivor. At Learn Look Locate, we are dedicated to providing a platform where survivors like Daniela can share their stories, connect with others who have faced similar challenges, and find the support and resources they need to thrive. We believe that by sharing these inspiring stories, we can empower and uplift the cancer survivor community, reminding everyone that they are not alone in their journey and that there is always hope for a brighter future.