Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life

Breast Cancer – A Chapter in the Story


“Breast cancer is no more than a chapter in my life story.

It will never be my life story.”

~Robin Roberts

Saltines and Ginger Ale. Who knew?

When I first heard that breast cancer was a possibility, these were the only things that tasted okay for months. Here’s for small miracles!

Breast cancer has been the chapter of many women’s life story in my family. Many of you know that Moms life story includes this chapter, as did my aunt’s on Dad’s side. My maternal grandmother’s life story ended in that chapter. This chapter is now a more intimate experience in my own life. This past fall I was diagnosed with breast cancer. For personal and professional reasons, I chose to keep the journey private. For all those same reasons, it now feels right to share.

During this time, I tried to focus on beauty where it could be found.

There was beauty and blessings in early detection.

There was beauty in a gorgeous AZ scene on the doors of pre-op room, very helpful to see and imagine.

There was beauty in the love and laughter in the shared prayer with our former pastor and forever friend who called before my surgery and led us in an energy-filled prayer, closing with, “Wow! I pray like a Baptist when I pray for Dawn Wink!”

There was beauty in learning that all the cancer was removed and I would not need chemotherapy or radiation.

There was beauty in the daily early morning coffee and candles during recovery.

When there were unexpected complications and I went back into surgery on December 23, there was beauty my family gathering with me at the hospital.

There was beauty in my surgeon who after complications arose took infinitely exquisite care of me through the initial emergency visit to her office on a Sunday, to the surgery the next day, then the daily, then every other day, then twice a week, then weekly care until the next surgery two months later.

Beauty in the phenomenal support and presence of my family. Every moment. Every Time. Throughout all.

The beauty of bulky sweaters! When things went awry after the first surgery, Mom, Wynn, and I went to a local consignment shop and loaded up on bulky sweaters that got me through these months. I have no idea what women do in the summer. Mumus? God bless bulky sweaters!

A gorgeous lamp store in downtown Santa Fe.

Window of my writing room.

There was beauty that in the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, before my diagnosis was final and when I walked into a breast cancer center for yet another diagnostic test and was greeted by a wall of pink balloons draping all in the two-story foyer that The Great Pink Balloon Rampage of 2019 remains only in my mind and did not actually occur. It was very, very close.

There was beauty in those whose intention is to comfort during invasive procedures. Unless you’re a person like me who during difficult times wants to be left alone to do what I need to do. So when people intending to be helpful during these procedures do not listen to me asking to please leave me alone and let me focus, there is great beauty that the visceral growl of, “If you get in my face one. more. time, I will throat-punch you,” remained unspoken.

Gratitude for small miracles.

There was beauty in the bouquet of flowers that Mom and Dad sent me after a confluence of events came as a 1-2 punch one week.

Beauty in the prayers received. I felt them deeply. Prayers made a world of difference for me. Thank you with all of my heart. Mil gracias con todo el corazón. 

Patricia De Dios

Beauty in the discovery of a cupboard beneath the stairs – a delight to my Harry Potter-loving heart.

Beauty that my recent surgery went well and my healing journey is on the upswing.

Beauty and courage in the pin given to me by a forever friend. I carry this pin with me, take it out to look at when I need inspiration, and rub my fingers across the edges when in my pocket.

I feel strong and have been working throughout.

I look forward to hitting the running trails again! The dogs look at me expectantly in the mornings, disappointed when I only refill my coffee. We will all be thrilled to get back into our daily rhythm.

I look forward to climbing back into the dissertation saddle to complete that journey.

Breast cancer is no more than a chapter in the whole of the book of my life story. This chapter definitely shapes me in new ways that continue to unfold and emerge. I don’t yet know all of the ways this will influence me. There is definitely a “Before” and “After” the diagnosis. The rest of the life story yet to be lived.



Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the beauty and tensions of language, culture, and place.

66 thoughts on “Breast Cancer – A Chapter in the Story

  1. Pingback: Joan & Dawn: The Personal and the Professional | Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

  2. Pingback: The Poetry, Inspiration, and Beauty of Birds | Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

  3. Dawn, quora speaks your name when defining inspiration as “the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions.” It is Dawn, “…a place or experience that makes a person want to do or create.” Even in the midst of trails, you continue to inspire.

    Thanks for inspiring me every semester. Thanks for inspiring me as I deployed to eradicate diseases in unknown places. Thanks for inspiring me as we battled with my son’s health. Thanks for always “letting your light shine” and inspiring.

    Last year I was deployed from Feb to Dec. Of course, I missed my family and friends. Ofcourse, I attempted to contact many. After I did not receive a call from you, I knew you were busy inspiring others (school, community and home). At some point, I began to focus on your journey with your dad. So, I began to pray for you, your dad and family during my daily prayer time.

    Now that I have read your post, I understand the reasons I felt compelled to ” turn up the volume ” on the prayers. Now that I have read your post, I say:

    Cancer kick rocks.
    Dawn, you are a child of the Most High.
    Dawn, He has you and His angels encamped all around you. This is evident by the replies to your post.
    A writer once said, “an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. So, when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.”

    Dawn, remain “focused and keep aiming.”
    Dawn, keep inspiring.
    Dawn, we have you!
    Dawn, we Love You!

  4. Pingback: Wild Waters, Langscape, and Stories About the Collective Human Experience | Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

  5. Dear Dawn, you REALLY inspire! Honor to know you, and to have been working with you, even distantly. I had no idea what you were fighting! Warm hugs from Ukraine!

  6. Amiga Dawn, I need some inspiration today and you have provided me and others with a huge dose of it. As I read about your journey, I’m reminded of something Carlos Santana wrote several years ago; “God created a circle of love so vast, no one can stand outside.” You are so in the middle of that circle Dawn. Un abrazo fuerte! Paul Martinez

  7. Thinking of you now, Dawn. You rock! I wish you the absolute best in your healing.

  8. Dear Dawn, I was so sad to hear this news and then so very relieved to know that you are healing and moving forward with that infectious positive energy you generate so naturally. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and look forward to seeing you soon. Felicia

  9. Seeing that you have had this chapter brought tears to my eyes at first. Then I smiled realizing that you are sharing a victory not a defeat.
    Keep seeing the beauty and that you are a huge part of it.
    Abrazos y amor,
    Tere Lee Hanford

  10. Hey dear. This is kind of dramatic news. I hope so much that you are ok and pulling through. It seems that we are in a time of plague, but I want you to know that I think of you often and with great affection! and that all is well over here and that once you are ready I would love to reconnect. it has been far too long. Be well dear Dawn. please please feel free to call or write or find me anytime you want. I appreciate you so much, and feel such complete confidence in your incredible strength and resilience! and want to be there for you any way I can. even just to talk or vent or anything. so much love!

    big hugs,



  11. I’m so honored to share this chapter of your life story with you, Dawn. Thank you for writing this beautifully worded and shaped chapter. I love that you frame this as a chapter as well as learning your healing journey is on an upswing. I send you so much light and love and an angel for you to occasionally glimpse on your shoulder.
    Peace and healing and joy in living…
    Much love,
    Mary Jo

  12. Beautiful, Dawn. I wish you wellness. I didn’t know.

  13. Hola Dawn, Gracias por compartir tu jornada personal. ¡Sigue siempre adelante con tu belleza externa e interna! Mucho cariño, Andrea Lozano

  14. Your silence was deafening. I knew there was something wrong by the length of it. Praise to our God of creation, preservation, and protection for the outcome.

  15. It takes more than a little cancer to keep a Wink girl down!! So proud of you Dawnie!!❤❤❤

  16. Beautifully written!

  17. Thank you for deciding to share your story, Comadre. There is so much beauty and strength in your life! Love you always.

  18. Best to you, Dawn,

    I am praying for you intensely since I read your post late last evening. You bring happiness and a positive outlook to all! Please reach-out if there is anything I can do to support you and your beautiful family.

    Continue to be well and strong,


  19. What a tough chapter you’ve been through! You are one courageous lady and I am so proud of you. So glad all of this is all behind you. Hugs!!

  20. It takes a strong person to share such a private, emotional journey. My Godmother is currently going through this ‘journey’. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Dawn, Your testimony touched me deeply. If only we are all able to find “beauty” everywhere and in everything like you do, our planet would be in a much better place. I will hold you in my heart and thoughts sending positive healing your way. Blessings and love, Tina

    On Tue, Mar 10, 2020 at 5:47 PM Dawn Wink: Dewdrops wrote:

    > Dawn Wink posted: ” “Breast cancer is no more than a chapter in my life > story. It will never be my life story.” ~Robin Roberts Saltines and Ginger > Ale. Who knew? When I first heard that breast cancer was a possibility, > these were the only things that tasted okay for ” >

  22. WOW, Dawn!- thank you so much for sharing! I am so sorry that you’ve had such a double dose of difficult times.

    Please know, that I am definitely here for you, and that you can text, 972-689-5308, email, DM, send smoke signals, tie strings to cans, or whatever – asking for prayers, day or night, no details required, unless you want.

    I’ve always treasured our unique bond and feel so blessed God put you in my life all those years ago. I can’t imagine a world without you and the beauty and joy you, and your mom, bring to it.

    All my love!

  23. Dawn – Beautiful story…..
    My little Sister, Dawn Hobbs, who I am sure your Dad knew got breast cancer at 34 and had the best attitude one could possibly have, whipped it only to have it come back 10 years later in her lungs and spine. Again a positive attitude and fought like a trooper but unfortunately didn’t make it. Hang in there and my prayers are with you and your family.
    Dennis Hobbs

  24. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

  25. Thank you for sharing your story. Much love to you. You are truly a living testament to Grit, Grace, and Gratitude.

  26. Your story about this chapter in your life is so gracefully and beautifully written, one with which I can identify because I, too, am a breast cancer survivor. Thank you for sharing it.

  27. Was your diagnosis DCIS? Or was it stage-able? I am surprised you did not do any brachy therapy. Interested to know how your after care goes. On Tamoxifen? Can you tell I worked in healthcare for 40 years?

  28. Dawn thank you for sharing your journey. I pray for you in your recovery. God Bless and take care.
    Rita Eismon

  29. Oh Dawn, Thank your for your beautiful Dewdrop! I am so glad that you are on the upswing of breast cancer. I want to thank you for your example. It might be easier said, or written, than done but looking at the beauty in life is truly how we can get through anything! Thank you for your story and for your courage to share. Take care, Sarah Esquerra(Shrack)

    On Tue, Mar 10, 2020, 5:47 PM Dawn Wink: Dewdrops wrote:

    > Dawn Wink posted: ” “Breast cancer is no more than a chapter in my life > story. It will never be my life story.” ~Robin Roberts Saltines and Ginger > Ale. Who knew? When I first heard that breast cancer was a possibility, > these were the only things that tasted okay for ” >

  30. Dawn, blessings and love. Thank you for your vulnerability and courage in writing. You inspire.

  31. Dear,Dawn you are awesome and still inspiring while going through a difficult chapter of your own.A couple of years back you inspired me to go through a certification process I didn’t realize I was capable of.Thank you.Thoughts and prayers with you always. Friend from LIUNA Training. Stanley p Plutnicki.

  32. Hey, Beautiful Person!
    Thank you for bringing so much beauty and light into the world! Strength. Rest. Recovery. Renewal. Restoration. Heal! Love to you my cherished friend.

  33. Thanks for your sharing this difficult journey, Dawn. We love you so much and appreciate your candor and your amazing ability to capture the beautiful moments in what most would call a nightmare.

  34. Thanks for sharing your chapter. Learning how much you are loved is one of the great gifts of this diagnosis. It is one that extends far beyond treatment and changes you in unanticipated ways. Continued blessings for healing and wholeness.

  35. Dawn – beautifully said. I pray for you and your recovery every day. Love to you dear friend. Sharman


  36. Question at first is always “What to say, isn’t it.” But now you are on to another beautiful chapter so I can say, “you go girl”. So happy for you and your family 🥰 Thanks for sharing when there is great news to report. Hugs Judi

    Sent from my iPhone

    Judigoolsbyartist.com Y”All…painted memories of the South

    Make The Most Of Every Day…It”s A Gift!


  37. 03.12 in the morning, just saw this. I hope you have felt our healing thoughts all along – we knew. Every third woman in our part of the world will get cancer; wondering when it is my turn. Your and Joan’s very different ways of battling it shows the diversity. SO happy that your outcome, in both cases, is so positive. And your way of now sharing this with friends is SO beautiful; it makes all of us stronger, and reminds us of the beauty of life, every day. Also now, when I should be in bed (will go soon). Back to your family, and your PhD! Tell me if you need any materials! a warm hug from both Robert and me, dearest Dawn. Tove

    • Dearest Tove, I have felt your and Robert’s love across the miles! Thank you so very much for sending such light, love, and strength. I feel all from you! Will send you a good email with more details – yes, back to my family and PhD. I will take you up on your offer materials! I just now diving back into all.
      SO much love to you and Robert!!

  38. Stay strong. I too had breast cancer and while it paused my life, life went on. Reflections on what is important helped. I continue to live life with what is most important and feel blessed to have caught it early. My life is enriched by family and I feel great that I have recovered. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Tracie Oliver

    • Dear Tracie, thank you ever so much for connecting and for sharing your own story with me. I love knowing of the next chapters in your life – inspiring and strengthening! Thank you. I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers.
      Heartfully accepted!
      With love,

  39. Oh Dawn, thank you for sharing your story. I am moved by the beautiful way you chose to share this. I am also sorry that you joined our club of women who never want others to join their club… 15 years out myself, and yes, it is a significant chapter, with many more to come. I look forward to continuing to appreciate and witness your magnificence in this world. Big love to you y muchos abrazos y besos.

    • Dear Barbara,
      Oh, so very grateful to know that you and I share this particular chapter – in addition to the Oaxaca chapter! – of our life stories. I am so sorry that you experienced this and now appreciate even more the wonder, delight, and determination in how you created all chapters. Incredible!
      Big, big love to you y muchos abrazos y besos!

  40. Thank you, there is no other word then “beautiful”.

    Blessings, Peggy

    Sent from my iPhone


  41. Dawn, thank you so much for this beautiful story about your journey with breast cancer. Your degree of courage and bravery brings tears to my eyes. The way you looked for the beauty in everything along the way gives hope and encouragement to others who may be facing similar circumstances. You and your mom are two of the strongest women I know. I am honored to be your friend.
    Love and prayers for you and your family.

    • Dear Janet, oh, have I been thinking of you and your family on your own journey. Please, please know how I surround you all in love and prayers across the miles. Your family’s own journey of strength and love inspires! Sending so much love to you all. Dawn

  42. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. Thank you for reminding us that there is beauty in every step of life’s journey. Sending continuous healing prayers to you. Love forever…..

    • Dear Diane,
      I feel your healing prayers from here! I truly do. Cannot tell you how much you and your healing prayers mean to me. What a comfort for me to know of your and Mom’s life-long friendship and love. What a blessing.
      Much love to you, Dawn

  43. You are now in my prayers for continued healing. Your story is inspiring to all who read it. Keep writing!

    • Dear Rita,
      Thank you ever so much. Your healing prayers gratefully accepted. Thank you and thank you. Thank you also for the encouragement to keep writing. This gives me great strength!
      Much love,

  44. Oh Dawn, I’m in tears over here. I treasure you, and this beautiful story. I’m so sorry you’re going through this, but I’m so happy I get to read about it from your own healing hand. I am not a praying kind of girl, but if I was I would say them for you. Instead I’ll send you all the healing, positive vibes I can. Nine years ago I found myself in your classroom, experiencing your positive energy, joy and patient knowledge. I hope you are able to draw on everyone else‘s energy for once to get as well as you can, and I know everyone treasures you too and will take excellent care of you. It sounds like you are well on your way to healed! Sending love and hugs from Minnesota! ❤️🌈❤️🌈❤️🌈❤️
    Terri, Trey, Linnea & Callie P.

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Dear Terri, I’ll take all the healing, positive vibes you send my way! Heartfully accepted! All that you write here really goes straight to my heart. Oh, this brings back memories of our time together in class! I cannot thank you enough, dear Terri. I also cannot tell you the joy that the photos of your gorgeous girls brings to me every single time! Please keep sharing those photos, beauty and joy!
      Much, much love,

  45. God bless you and your strong, beautiful spirit, Dawn Wink!
    Yes! Only a chapter in your beautiful life.
    I’ll be keeping you in my prayers and so happy you’re on a steady healing path. ❤️❤️

  46. Dear Dawn…..I wish I would have known. Your blog is beautiful as you described your journey, which those of us who have been through it, know that it was not easy…..the threat, the scare, the weeping, the laughing, the caring, the support, the uncertainties, the new normal. It has been 15 years since your mom and I both received our diagnosis and you were wonderful to make sure we met at First Pres. No doubt this has been very hard on her to go through it again with you…….we never stop being a mommy with all of the worries and frets that go along with it. But I am also certain that her outcome was very comforting for you. Just knowing that she has done it and you can do it too, perhaps helped your journey go more smoothly….at least at times. Please know that my thoughts and prayers will continue with you. If at any time you would like to just talk about anything, please feel free to call me. (505-577-4530). You are now part of “the club” that no woman wants to belong to, but that every woman cherishes because of the beautiful relationships that evolve from it. Sending HUGE hugs to you, Noe and your super young adults. And, a HUGE hug for your mom, also. Love to you! ❤️ Shirlee Davidson

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Dear Shirlee,
      Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you ever so much for all of the heart and love and knowing that I feel coming through all that you write here. It makes my heart smile to think of when you and Mom met and the incredible journeys you’d both traveled and how much I loved that I was there with you both. Thank you so very much for your prayers and thoughts. I heartfully accept all. Thank you also for your cell! I’ll pass your HUGE hug to my mom, too. Yes, quite the journey for all.
      Much, much love,

  47. Dearest Dawn, Prayers will continue so that your cancer chapter is completed for good. I cannot imagine going through what you and so many have to go through we they get the Big C diagnosis. I would be a mess if I had to go through an ingrown toenail procedure; you are certainly brave. And with all this, you still dealt with academia. It is so good to see Dewdrops again. Thank you for the beauty you bring to the world.

    Much love and careful hugs, Dan

    • Dearest Dan, so very wonderful to hear from you.

      Thank you SO much for writing. Prayers that this chapter is completed gratefully and heartfully accepted. You made me chuckle out loud here with my coffee and candles with the reference to an ingrown toenail procedure! Thank you for that.

      The ‘careful hugs’ also really made my heart smile. Yeah, it’s definitely been a whole different kind of hug these past months. Looking forward to those robust hugs again!

      Much, much love to you,

  48. Almost 25 years ago ( I was about your age) I went thro’ a similar cancer diagnosis. I send all good thoughts and prayers for your complete recovery!
    Carol Kortan

    • Dear Carol, I remember Mom talking about this. Thank you so much for sharing your own story of inspiration. Prayers for a complete recovery gratefully accepted!

  49. Dear Dawn, I am sad to learn of your journey with cancer and at the same time I feel hope as I learn that your surgery has gone well and that you will be able to experience this as a chapter in your life. I think of you often and would wonder where you are in your journey toward your Ph.D. I often think about the wonderful online classes and the books on my shelf from those classes. I am looking forward to hearing about the next chapter(s) in your life as you resume good health and resume your Ph.D. work.

    My husband’s recent journey with cancer turned out to be his final chapter. Pancreatic biliary adenocarcinoma was the final chapter after an 8.5 month battle that ended on February 25, 2020 – just 2 months after his 69th birthday. I want to thank you for sharing your journey with us as it gives hope that not all cancers end the way my husband’s did. Your mother is one such warrior and my mother, another, who were able to continue writing chapters in the books of their lives. I look forward to reading many more chapters in the book of your life, Dawn.

    • Dearest Lindy, it is so very wonderful for me to hear from you. Thank you for reaching out to connect. Please know how often I think of you and with much love.

      I am so very sorry to learn of your husband’s passing. Thank you so very much for sharing this with me. Sending you such prayers and love. It really means so much to me for you to express that this may provide hope for others. That was my hope and intention in writing. In honor of your warrior mother!

      Much love to you, Lindy,

  50. Your words are an inspiration to many, I’m sure. Your Iowa family will pray for you as your recovery continues. Much love!

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