Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Survivor
Shares Optimism About the Future
Ricki Fairley is a passionate advocate for triple-negative breast cancer awareness. She’s a five-year survivor who has spent nearly every moment since her diagnosis sharing information and optimism with anyone who will listen.
I was diagnosed with Stage IIIA triple-negative breast cancer at the age of 55 and was treated with a double mastectomy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. I’ve spent the last five years working diligently to raise awareness of TNBC, especially among young African-American women, who are far more likely than other groups to have this type of breast cancer. I always tell the women I talk with to check the breasts you love and be cognizant of your body. This type of breast cancer is unique because, unlike most others, there is no maintenance therapy to help prevent recurrence. And although I’ve been tested and do not have the BRCA mutation, I feel very strongly that when my daughters reach their mid-30s they should consider prophylactic surgery.
The best advice I received early in my treatment was to remove stress from my life. I worked really hard and made some very drastic changes to get rid of my stress. I filed for divorce from my husband of 30 years, sold my house and moved to the beach where I grew up. I can’t prove it, but I know that focusing on my happiness had a significant effect on my cancer. And the support that I received was critical. Family and friends took care of me, and I was never alone for the entire first year.
It can be difficult to deal with a triple-negative diagnosis, but I decided early on that I was going to be #triplepositive because I am a walking blessing and so grateful for every moment. I was saved to do something with my life, and I’ve found my purpose in advocacy work. Find your happy place, figure out what is going to give you peace and get stress out of your life. Channel your fear into faith so that you can celebrate every day because every day is a blessing.