Meet Royce Epstein, Mohawk Group’s Director of Design Segment. In August of 2014, at the age of 45, Royce was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram. Royce is sharing her story to help educate on the importance of early detection, and to shed some light on the long journey to wellness once a woman hears those fateful words: “You have breast cancer”. Read her words below as a survivor facing life with a new outlook:
I consider myself very fortunate to work for an amazing company such as Mohawk that is a corporate sponsor of Susan G. Komen®. With our Specify for A Cure program, we are proud to participate with an organization that is fighting the battle every day against breast cancer. As someone personally affected by this disease, I am even more determined to work with Mohawk and Komen to do what I can to spread awareness about the disease and our program to help combat it, as well as remind the ladies to get mammograms and take care of their bodies.
So you can imagine the great emotion and pride I felt when I had the opportunity to visit the Komen corporate offices this past summer. I went with my colleague Sarah Tuck and our host was Carrie Hodges, an amazing woman who lives and breathes the Komen mission. It was there in Dallas that I understood my role as a survivor. I cannot be silent. I must share my story, if nothing more than to inspire others that you can overcome breast cancer. It’s also very important to let breast cancer patients know that they are not alone and we are rooting for them.
It was an emotional day. I added my name to their survivor wall and took in the sheer volume of names of women who were being remembered. It’s very humbling to think I was spared and so many other women were not. You feel guilty. You feel incredible sadness. You feel emotionally exhausted. And you feel relieved. But my fight is not over, it will never be over. As a cancer survivor there will always be more tests and checkups that I need to pass, and lots of worry and hope that cancer never comes back.
After that eye-opening visit, I connected again with the incredible ladies from Susan G. Komen for the Race for the Cure in New York City. Carrie introduced me to her team, and I also had the honor of meeting Nancy Brinker, the founder of Komen, who named the organization after her sister who died of breast cancer. I also met her son, and together we all walked the three miles in Central Park. I was donning hot pink knee socks for the occasion. I cried during many parts of the day, and thought about a lot of things. I walked in honor of my grandmother who had breast cancer. I walked in honor of my ex-boyfriend’s mother who died of breast cancer. And I walked for my friends who have battled the same as me. And I walked for myself, to help heal my physical and emotional scars. It’s quite sobering to see the sheer volume of people touched by breast cancer. At the walk, many people wore signs on their backs to honor their loved ones, either lost or still battling.
After the walk was over, I joined hundreds of survivors for our own parade. This was the most special and intense part of the day for me. I was alone, tears streaming down my face, and walking next to strangers who, like me, are new one-year-out survivors. The gal next to me, Stephanie, put her arm around me to hold me up, and together we walked arm-in-arm through the park with onlookers cheering and a marching band leading the way. I will never forget Stephanie’s kindness, the crowd’s overwhelming enthusiasm, and the drums beating just as loud as my own heart.
Read more about Royce’s breast cancer story on Susan G. Komen.