Cathy's Story

Her Opportunity 

The Cathy Bostwick Story

I never expected to tell this story," Cathy Bostwick said as she began. When Cathy started working to raise funds for Women Playing for T.I.M.E. (WPFT) and MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, she never thought she would experience first hand the life-giving care offered by Central Florida’s premier cancer center.

One day while doing a routine self-exam, she felt a hard, pea-sized lump in her breast. "I had yearly mammograms and faithfully performed monthly breast self-exams," she said. As Cathy examined herself, she checked and rechecked as her fingers felt the small mass.

I never expected to tell this story," Cathy Bostwick said as she began. When Cathy started working to raise funds for Women Playing for T.I.M.E. (WPFT) and MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, she never thought she would experience first hand the life-giving care offered by Central Florida’s premier cancer center.One day while doing a routine self-exam, she felt a hard, pea-sized lump in her breast. "I had yearly mammograms and faithfully performed monthly breast self-exams," she said. As Cathy examined herself, she checked and rechecked as her fingers felt the small mass.

While waiting to have a mammogram, she lost herself in fundraising. It was not until she spoke with a friend whose wife was having a double mastectomy that she remembered the lump she had found.

On May 12, 2005, Cathy had a mammogram followed by an ultrasound. She was talking, not at all concerned, when the radiologist said, "Your mammogram didn’t show a mass, but the ultrasound does."

By the following Friday, Cathy was in the operating room. After the surgery, she looked into the eyes of the surgeon and could tell by his eyes that he thought it was cancer. Just days later while conducting a lunch meeting for an upcoming fundraising event; she received the surgeon’s call. "I'm afraid I have bad news for you," he said, confirming the diagnosis. Cathy scribbled on a napkin the words, Meeting on hold. I have cancer. "Time stopped, and everything became fuzzy. I felt like I had stepped out of my body as I heard the news," she said.

Cathy cried as she sat in the parking lot and called her husband. He shouted the word "NO" as he heard the dreaded words; he too then cried. The exceptionally positive woman, however, did not drown in her sorrow. She saw the experience as an opportunity to embrace this disease with the determination of becoming both a well-informed patient and fundraiser. "I never panicked. I believed in the team at MD Anderson - Orlando," she said. Cathy thought of all the courageous women, our ambassadors for WPFT and knew that in no way could she "be a wimp." "The cup was half-full, not half-empty and this cancer must now become an opportunity," she shared.

"One day reality hit me and not wanting to cry at my desk, I quietly left and found myself sobbing driving the streets with no destination," Cathy said. "I called Lucy Gordon, also a breast cancer survivor and chairman of the tennis event for WPFT, who upon diagnosis embraced me with her friendship and support. Lucy felt that no one should face this journey alone. It was OK to cry and explained the cycle of acceptance. She was incredible and walked along side me from start to finish."

When the results returned that the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes, her entire office hooted and hollered with joy. "It was a frightening, yet phenomenal experience. Together with God and the support of wonderful family and friends, I have emerged a stronger person and renewed appreciation for the phrase "each day is a gift."