Triumph of Ambivalence

“Triumph of Ambivalence.” By Jamie Halloway, Arlington Magazine.

Breast cancer didn’t beat me. But the term survivor just doesn’t feel right.

In June 1999, a new bride, I moved to Arlington to attend graduate school at Georgetown University. My husband was starting a postdoctoral fellowship at the FDA, and I had chosen the Tumor Biology Training Program at the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown. Lombardi has a nationally re-nowned breast cancer program, and I soon settled into a lab doing breast cancer research alongside many talented scientists.

Five years later, a few months after the birth of my first child, I defended my dissertation, received a Ph.D. for my work (in the area of the progression of breast cancer to hormone independence) and left science to stay home with my new baby girl in our home in Westover.

By the time I put that little girl on the bus for her first day of third grade (along with her younger brother, who was starting kindergarten) I was eager to get back into science. Within a month, I found myself immersed once again in all things breast cancer—though not at all as I had expected. Days after finding a lump in my left breast, I was sitting in a surgeon’s office at the Reinsch Pierce Family Center for Breast Health at Virginia Hospital Center. By the end of the week, I had been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

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