Hopeful. Mother. Female Founder. Community Builder.
In July 2016, at age 51, Vera Trifunovich was diagnosed with Stage 2 invasive lobular breast cancer. She was shattered by the results of her biopsy, particularly because of her experience losing her mother to inflammatory breast cancer in 1991.
Veronica remembers the anger that she felt after learning that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. She felt an overwhelming need to do something bigger with her experience.
“I don’t have a choice about what’s happening to me physically, but I do have a choice about how I handle it emotionally,” Vera says. She says she chose to look at the silver lining and committed to a positive mindset.
After her breast cancer surgery, she was excited to get back to work, and to start moving again. Particularly, she found joy in dancing. Within four weeks, Vera was taking Zumba classes. Not everyone can bounce back into movement so fast, and each individual should take the time they need to fully recover. Vera, who built a career in the fitness industry, says she had to take it easy when she first started exercising again.
“I couldn’t really move my arm yet, because I was just starting PT (physical therapy) … I remember I was just dancing, and I would just dance with one arm. Dancing was good for my body, and it was also so good for my soul. It was in those moments when I was dancing, and listening to fun music, and being with my friends, it would all melt away,” she told SurvivorNet.
She adds that her experience brought to light how important it is to listen to your body, and to not let fear stop you from doing the right thing for your health. It also made her grateful for community, and inspired her to found Bare Breasted Against Breast Cancer, a non-profit organization focused on creating a support network and harnessing the healing power of the arts for cancer patients and survivors. The website has free videos that offer personal stories and helpful advice for anyone coping with a diagnosis.
“I want these women to log and find a little bit of sisterhood, find some hope, find some support. Not just terrifying articles and statistics,” explains Vera.
Learn more about Vera and her organization Bare Breasted Against Breast Cancer here.