Claire’s Journey

Claire was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in early March.

She found a lump in her left breast and thought it was probably nothing, she said. She was still nursing her youngest, Chloe, at the time and thought it was more likely a clogged duct, or something do do with her menstrual cycle. A few weeks later, not only had it not gone away, but it had grown. With no health insurance at the time, the Figueras family began a circuitous route to discovering that the lump was cancerous. After weeks of frustrating phone calls, Claire was able to enroll in Humana Health Care through Obamacare. Although the tumor was found only in one breast, after some careful thought, Claire opted for a double mastectomy.

Through a friend, I was introduced to her in late April. We met on April 22, one day before she underwent surgery.

The morning we met, one day before the surgery,  we talked for almost 3 hours. Our girls go to the same school. She’s got three of her own – Chloe, 2, Kiara, 7, and Hannah, 9. Before I left, we captured a few portraits. As I left, her husband, Bert, was on the phone dealing with an insurance issue.

Claire’s surgery the next day was longer than expected. Cancer was found in her lymph nodes in her left arm and all the nodes were subsequently removed. Her treatment plan now will now involve chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy.

Those are the very basic facts.

But facts cannot properly explain how open Claire has been to sharing her journey into this new and uncertain journey into breast cancer treatment.

She and her husband, Bert, have been full of graciousness, humor and open vulnerability in the time I’ve spent with them so far. As Claire headed into pre-op on the morning of the surgery, he recounted a conversation they had had about her body changing after surgery. “I don’t care about her breasts,” he said. “I’m not in love with her breasts. I’m in love with her soul.”

One morning, at home after the surgery, Claire described how well her littlest one has been in respecting her surgical wounds, careful not to hang on mommy too much. “She’s been great,” Claire said. “She says ‘Mama boo boo’ when she sees my drains. It’s been harder on me, actually. I want to cuddle her and that hurts a little.”

Yesterday, on Mother’s Day weekend, Claire arranged for haircuts. “It’s going to fall out anyway,” she said.

Hannah’s long ponytail will be donated to create wigs for other cancer patients.

“It’s just hair,” she said, echoing her mother’s bravery and enthusiasm.

 

*** If you would like to send a gift of gratitude to Claire for sharing her story, please click this link: http://gfwd.at/1kZTbak

Donating is easy, makes you feel good, and will definitely help this family get through a long journey ahead.

**** I will continue to follow along and blog Claire’s story as she moves into treatment for her breast cancer.
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17 thoughts on “Claire’s Journey

  1. I couldn’t read the words, but the pictures say it all! May God give her the strength and courage to fight and over come this!

  2. I could not read the words, the pictures tell the story. May God give her the strength and courage to overcome this battle!

  3. So amazingly beautiful. Through it all you and your family are truly blessed. God be with you in your journey. You
    know we are here for you. xoxo

  4. Yes Claire,
    If I can kick the Big C’s arse, so can you.
    Pics are inspired and document an incredible journey, keep strong mate x

  5. Hi Claire, I’m new to facebook but I’m so pleased I came to your wonderful photo journey via Julie. Your smile just shines through and Berts love is the same. It’s always an inspiration to read other peoples experiences and to see as well is even better. All my love Rosslynx

  6. Hi Claire, its Kirsten, Julies friend. You may remember that we spent the day in Liverpool years ago and I took a funny photo of us looking like we were holding up a huge anchor!! (must find that photo!) lol. Anyway, I did not realise you were going throught all this and saw your journey via Julie on FB. You are truely amazing and courageous, you have a beautiful and strong family and I know you will beat this my love. I have gone through breast cancer with my mum. She had all sorts of complications including serious heart disease which affected how she was treated and not to mention her age (68 at the time). She had very aggressive cancer and went into her lymphnodes too. She was too weak to have chemo and only had radiotherapy..it was a long journey and very upseting at times, but we got through it as a family. Mum is now 73 and been cancer free for the last 5 years!!…If my mum can do it ..you can!! Much love and hugs…you are an inspiration. Kirsten. xxxx

  7. Claire,
    A blast from the past but I saw this through Julie’s FB. I just wanted to say hi and to give you my support from across the seas. You can do this! Your family look loving and supportive, and although different from our days in Epsom, you look beautiful and strong. Thank you for sharing your pictures and story.
    We are with you girl.
    Lots of love
    Sean Ghazi

  8. Claire, remember when we used to rollerskate up and down Lyndhurst Avenue!!! You were strong then and you’ll be even stronger now, you can beat this, all your friends from St Peters and Harrytown are behind you. Love to you and your family, you can do this xxxx Sue

  9. Claire, you’re a beautiful woman with a beautiful family. Your story and journey are so inspiring-it makes me remember what is really important in life.
    As a child, I also battled cancer and was not expected to survive it. Way back then, we didn’t have the medical advances we have today. As you already know, it’s amazing how powerful God, your family, and your friends are.
    You are in my thoughts and prayers and PLEASE don’t hesitate to reach out if I can help in any way-even just to talk.
    Love you!

  10. Claire, you are such beautiful person inside and out, and your faith, courage, strength, sense of humor, and positive attitude during these past few months has been such an inspiration to me and all those around you. Your love for your family and their love for you is beautiful and moving, and is a powerful reminder to all of us to focus on what is truly important in life. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your journey with us. You and your family are in our hearts and prayers, and I know God has many continued blessings in store for you and your family on this journey of healing. Love you all!

  11. Claire – I had no idea you were going through this. I cried reading your story and looking at your photos. I know you can beat this and you have a great army in your beautiful family helping you fight this battle. You have an amazing husband at your side. Wishing you, Bert and your gorgeous girls lots of love and strength through this. You are in my thoughts and prayers beautiful Claire xoxo

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