Darcie Olson, a member of the Cowlitz Tribe, found a lump on her breast around the age of 30. It was dismissed by her healthcare provider. Something inside of her craved change. “It made me want to try new things.” She and her husband moved from North Portland to Deer Island on a large parcel of property. They built their dream home and lived a more peaceful, country life. It was wonderful.

Then, she was diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer at the age 51 in 2012. She was the same age as her mother when she was diagnosed. She didn’t know much about the disease but was diligent to get her mammogram every year.  She went through surgery and treatment quietly. She and her husband didn’t talk about it. She didn’t have much support from her healthcare providers. And didn’t find much in the way of programs after treatment.

But time proved to challenge Darcie. She moved her elderly parents onto her property to better care for them. There were many appointments, sicknesses, and eventual deaths of her parents and her uncle in 2022.

At the same time, she had her routine mammogram only to learn that she had breast cancer once again at age 61 in December 2022. Ironically, her mother had a recurrence at age 82. “I also learned my aunt had breast cancer in her 60’s, but the doctor said they would watch it. She passed away and it was too late.” That wasn’t right.

Darcie decided to get genetic testing as she had invasive lobular breast cancer. Treatment was much more intensive and took much longer than expected. “I thought that there was a higher being for all of this to happen. I realized how short life can be. I want to enjoy life every day.”

“I am trying to be upbeat. The doctors scared me more than anyone else because the radiation treatment was so close to my heart. I had to hold my breath for every zap.” But her nurse navigator was incredibly helpful along the way. Darcie wished she had had this same support during her first diagnosis and treatment.

What was difficult to find were programs for support after treatment. But she learned about Pink Lemonade Project efforts through her breast reconstruction surgeon. “People need to be able to talk to one another and gain support from those experiencing breast can like me. Help answer my questions. Alay my fears. And connect with others who have the same diagnosis.”

Darcie has found good support in her community and online, and it helps her as she gets ready to complete her reconstruction next month. She is glad for Pink Lemonade Project’s work. Her hope is that more women get screened regularly and ask for support. She ultimately wants breast cancer to be eradicated with new therapies.





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