Barbara had been experiencing numbness and tingling in her hands and feet for a while, and doing research one day, she learned that “peripheral neuropathy” could be a symptom of cancer. The next morning, she felt a lump in her breast. By the time her doctor diagnosed her with breast cancer, Barbara was expecting it.

“I was very calm,” she recalls, “which freaked the doctor out. But that’s my nature.”

Barbara’s ability to take things in stride was essential to her work as a professional children’s portrait photographer, and it helped her cope emotionally with her diagnosis—at first. Unfortunately, it didn’t make her immune to the practical challenges of cancer. Getting to and from treatment was difficult, as was covering the cost of co-payments for additional hospital visits due to complications from her chemotherapy.

Barbara was overwhelmed. That’s when a hospital social worker recommended she call CancerCare. CancerCare was able to help Barbara throughout her treatment in various ways, including financial assistance for transportation, defraying the cost of co-payments, and other services.

Now that Barbara is done with treatment, she faces new challenges she did not anticipate. The main question on her mind is, How do I pull a life together now that I’ve survived?

“In a way, it can be harder to survive cancer than to have it,” Barbara says. “During treatment, you’re in crisis mode, focusing on getting through it, and not feeling much. Once treatment is over, that’s when it hits you: ‘Oh my God, I had cancer.’”

Barbara now uses her photography as a way of coping. She has found counseling sessions with her oncology social worker very helpful.

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