Claire’s Story – Before, After, and After


As we look forward to our 25th year and beyond, it is with the greatest respect that we share these intimate glimpses into the lives of the women and their caregivers whom we are honored to support, and whose lives YOU transform with your donations. We are grateful to each of you who make this possible. Ray Anne Evans, Executive Director

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I was 27 years old, new to Austin with no family in Texas, and alone at my gynecologist’s office.....

The nurse practitioner tells me that I will need a biopsy to be sure, but the golf ball sized lump I’d discovered two weeks before, is almost certainly breast cancer. Out of nowhere, I burst into shocked sobs. That was my “before and after” moment, a hard line drawn in my life.

Before - a confident young professional who had, just a few months prior, gotten the job of her dreams and was working on repaying graduate school loans. After - a scared kid, feeling very alone, wondering if she was about to die before she even really got to live the life she’d imagined.

I thought I would have surgery and be done with it. Instead my oncologist told me that I would start with five months of chemotherapy before radiation, a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, followed by 10 years of hormone therapy after "active treatment", and my mouth literally dropped open! It was then she said, “I’m referring you to the Breast Cancer Resource Center.”

I got a call the very next day from my Patient Navigator, Runi, who had been 28 when she was diagnosed. She gave me practical advice to help me get through chemotherapy and got me involved in the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls, a BCRC support group for young women. Through the online forum, I could post questions and get answers, and at the monthly support luncheons I connected with other women like me, and made friends who are still in my life today. Thankfully, I participated in BCRC’s Support Circle for newly diagnosed women, and this was the healing medicine that gave me the mental fortitude to move forward.

What I didn't know then was that cancer doesn’t end the day you are declared disease-free, and BCRC gets that. They helped me find purpose in the wake of breast cancer and I've stayed involved as a volunteer - first as a model and fundraiser for Art Bra® Austin while I still in chemotherapy, and now helping behind the scenes. They also inspired my new career as Patient Care Coordinator for Dr. Fisher, the plastic surgeon who did my reconstruction. Here I meet with every new breast cancer patient and never fail to ask if they're familiar with BCRC.

I'm very fortunate that I had BCRC to help me get through treatment, and to help me navigate life after breast cancer. Today I'm happy and healthy, and couldn't ask for more. BCRC gave me the "after", after breast cancer.

Your donations give thousands of women and their caregivers what they need to transform to a happy "after". On behalf of all of us, we are grateful. Thank you, Claire Spera


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