Written by Lyn Dobrin
It was Dec. 31, 1999, the last day of the 20th century, and Florence Dolling was preparing an elaborate Thai dinner for a New Year’s Eve celebration in her home in Glen Cove when the phone rang. It was her doctor reporting that, “Yes, it was breast cancer.” She kept on cooking, attempting to retain as much normalcy as she could muster, knowing that, with the new millennium, there would certainly come change.
“I wore a red strapless bustier for the party because I thought I was saying goodbye to the ‘girls’,” she says. “My husband, my sense of humor, and my friends, helped me get through that night,” she recalls.
As it turned out, because her cancer was stage one, Dolling had minimal surgery—a lumpectomy—and later radiation and treatment with Tamoxifen. “I’m a poster child for mammography,” she says.
But there was more cancer that year. Two weeks after her surgery, John, Dolling’s husband of less than one year, was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“We felt it was sort of a test,” she says, “a way to see if we could endure so much in such a short time together. We learned that we could depend on and trust each other no matter what. We grew closer than ever before. Today, we are both healthy survivors.”
Ten years ago, Dolling decided to put her experience with breast cancer to good use and became a volunteer with the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Program. As an outreach volunteer she gives her time to do outreach throughout the New York area.
Dolling says, “So many people do not know where to go, to whom to turn and where support groups and referrals to breast cancer resources are available.
Providing that information, reassuring them that there are many, many survivors of breast cancer and seeing the relief on the faces of so many people faced with this scary diagnosis, is her way of giving back.”
To reach the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program, call 800-877-8077. You are not alone.