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  • Writer's pictureArnel Greenberg

Rocky Slopes and the Gentle Paths - by Arnel Greenberg

Breast cancer survivor, Arnel Greenberg, talks about her experience with a breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and her healing journey.

Arnel Greenberg is originally from New York, and now resides in Tega Cay, South Carolina. She describes herself as"a grateful, 67 year-old, breast cancer survivor." 

Life as I knew it would never be the same

As the anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis approached and then quietly passed, I reflected on the rocky slopes and the gentle paths of my journey thus far. I thought back to the hurdles I had cleared and contemplated some future hurdles still ahead for me. To recap my journey, a biopsy in July 2022 confirmed my triple-negative IDC, and life as I knew it would never be the same.

Still teaching first grade, I started off my school year believing that keeping busy would keep my mind off my recent diagnosis. A whirlwind of multiple doctor visits and lab tests each week put that plan on hold. I thought it best to take a leave of absence for the first quarter and return to my classroom by the start of the second quarter following my September lumpectomy. But after being in the classroom for over 35 years, my Higher Power had a different plan for me, a new path for me to go down. My genetics testing finally came back as BRCA 1+. As luck would have it, my triple-negative diagnosis was not as good as I thought it sounded either. Since I had no hormone receptors, my only course of treatment would be six months of chemotherapy. Needless to say, I could not return to school that year and I would officially close the book on my teaching career and retire. On November 1st, my port was implanted for my first chemo infusion November 4th.

Ringing the bell isn't the end of the journey

I finally got to “ring the bell” on April 14, 2023, but my journey doesn’t end there. Now cancer-free, I met with my team of oncologists and surgeons to discuss my ‘high-risk’ genetic mutations and weigh out my options to reduce the risk of a recurrence or new breast or gynecological cancer developing.

We decided my best course of action would be a DMX, hopefully avoiding radiation. In August 2023, I underwent a prophylactic double mastectomy and began breast reconstruction with expanders. By October 2023, it was decided that my chemo port would not be used for future surgeries and could finally be surgically removed. In November, I underwent a prophylactic hysterectomy and recuperated until my December reconstruction surgery.

Everything was moving along according to plan, until I hit a rocky slope, as multiple complications occurred from what should have been a basic exchange surgery. That is where I am today… but I maintain a positive outlook following a second opinion from my new surgeon, confident that he can repair the complications that my original surgeon refused to acknowledge. I’m actually looking forward to my May 7th surgery! 

Gentle paths along the way

The "gentle paths" along my journey that I mentioned earlier have been all the amazing people I have met along the way. My support system... composed of my fiancé, my children and grandsons, my brothers and sisters-in-law, my nieces and nephews, and my friends and neighbors, who have been there for me every step of the way.

At this time, I MUST share how blessed I am and acknowledge all the “Previvors”, "Survivors" & "Thrivers" from everyone on the Supportive Oncology team at the Levine Cancer Institute, the Pink House in Charlotte, and the NothingPink Community in Rock Hill. It was through NothingPink that I connected with The After Cancer group of amazing survivors sharing their experiences and expertise. These special friendships forged, encourage me daily. These women and men have taught me how to handle life with grace, compassion, humor, and an inner strength I didn't realize I possessed. I learned to embrace each experience and be grateful for it! So now, as I physically, mentally, and emotionally prepare for my upcoming surgery, I thank you for allowing me to share my journey with you. 


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