This year was supposed to be a year of dress fittings, cake tasting, and sending out the final wedding invitation. That all came to an abrupt halt when I found a lump in my right breast and got the confirmation this past January that I indeed had stage 2 breast cancer.

My fiance and I did not know what to do. There was too much unknown. And not knowing how I would handle treatment, we decided to reschedule our wedding. I was disheartened, upset and confused. I did not understand how a healthy and young woman, that did not have breast cancer in her family, got breast cancer, and so rapidly.

While I was working with my oncologist coordinator, Eileen, at NY Presbyterian, she introduced me to the group 5 Under 40, a foundation dedicated to women under age 40, diagnosed with breast cancer and diagnosed with the BRCA gene mutation, in the New York Metro and New Jersey area.

At 5 Under 40, I found clarity during a confusing time. I met women going through a similar struggle: young like me, and dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis; a diagnosis that didn’t define me.  I did not want that to be a part of my story. But with the support from one another, it made me feel better to know I was not alone.

The look of cancer was what got me the most. I didn’t want to look sick. I especially didn’t want to look sick or weak because I am a freelance producer. And didn’t want to loose a job because of it. I knew I was going to lose my hair, so to prepare me for the hair loss I lopped off my hair into a chic bob with the help of David Evangelista, who works with 5 Under 40 to prepare and make women look beautiful during such a stressful time. It was not long enough to donate, but luckily and oddly enough, I donated my hair almost a year to the date I was diagnosed.

After the second round of chemo my hair really began to fall out. Strands were all over my clothes. I would wake up to a pillow-case of hair. It was getting to the point that I had to take the dust buster to my bed, pj’s and bathroom floor every morning. The hairs were driving me crazy and I finally made the choice to buzz the rest of my hair and wear the beautiful blonde wig 5 Under 40 also provided from Bitz–n-Pieces.

5 Under 40 is really an incredible group of miraculous women and a wonderful resource that provides services to women going through breast cancer treatment. They teach you how to detect early signs of breast cancer, and how to deal with chemo after effects. They give you guidance on how to care for your skin and nourish your body. Show you the best products to use and even teach you how to do your eyebrows and eye lashes. What is truly incredible about this foundation is they know exactly was you are going through, because they have been there and there is life after cancer.

I was able to share with the women at 5 Under 40 that though my fiance and I decided to reschedule our planned wedding, we made the choice to have a City Hall ceremony and an intimate ceremony in Fort Tryon Park before I began treatment. Breast cancer was not going to stop us from being in love and happy.

Instead, it would be a year of celebration: celebrating my recovery from my lumpectomy, celebrating completing chemo and radiation treatment, and being able to finally declare myself cancer free in the beginning of September. I learned how much love was around me, and how much support I had from old friends and from my miraculous new friends at 5 Under 40.

My fiance and I have so much to look forward to in our life together! Plus, I get to wear my wedding dress twice, when we renew our vows at the BIG wedding, with all our family and friends there, in 2017!