This month, in partnership with AdventHealth for Women, we’re recognizing some of the women in our community who are survivors of breast cancer, who have had a recurrence, or who are currently going through treatment. To us, all of these women are survivors in their own right. It is the hope of these women that by telling their stories they inspire and educate other women who are facing a breast cancer diagnosis.
Justine Finocchiaro-Doles was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 18 but it wasn’t until receiving a breast cancer diagnosis almost three decades later that she found her voice. “Back when I was diagnosed with my first cancer, people didn’t talk about having cancer. But after I completed treatment the first time for breast cancer, I found I had so much more self-esteem than I thought I had, and I finally had the courage to speak up.” In fact, that courage and fighting breast cancer two more times, has led Finocchiaro-Doles to start a podcast all about cancer survivors called Just Talk with Justine.
In the process of looking for support, Finocchiaro-Doles found not only a network of friends who could relate to what she was going through, but a new fitness routine too—dragon boat racing. A self-described “non-poster child” for exercising, Finocchiaro-Doles says she is so thankful to Warriors on Water, the breast cancer survivor dragon boat racing team she has been a member of since 2014. “I still don’t like exercising, but now I do it because I love this group of women so much,” Finocchiaro-Doles says.
Last year, Finocchiaro-Doles’s husband Bryan got some hard news: He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “He’s always copying me,” she says with a laugh. Although Finocchiaro-Doles didn’t get to ring the bell after going four rounds with cancer herself, she got to ring the bell with her husband when he completed his chemotherapy, a moment Finocchiaro-Doles deeply cherishes.
Together, Finocchiaro-Doles and her husband own a general contractor business that works exclusively for tradeshows. The pandemic has been a rough ride for their business, but Finocchiaro-Doles says she has also felt a lot of hope in the midst of everything. “Life is too short to worry. You just gotta pull yourself up and live life to the fullest.”