Breast cancer survivor pays it forward by mentoring others

Cathy Wenzel was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2009.

Cathy Wenzel never imagined she'd be that woman.

Sure, her best friend, Sue, had breast cancer and beat it.

But Cathy? She had no risk factors or family history.

So it came as a shock in November 2009 when Wenzelâ??s doctor delivered the grim news.

â??I was fortunate that they caught it so early,â?? Wenzel said. It didn't mean treatment was easy.

After her lumpectomies, Wenzel got a full hysterectomy.

"When I recovered from that, I had the radiation and that was 33 sessions, and it's not hard, it's tedious,â?? Wenzel said.

The harder part for Wenzel was learning to step out of the driver's seat.

"I used to be very independent before I had it, and I had to learn how to sit back and let others do things for me,â?? Wenzel said.

She learned to lean on her friend â?? who was somewhat of a guru â?? in fighting breast cancer

"I told her she was going to have to move over on that couch of hers so that she could get me through this experience, and she did it so well,â?? Wenzel said.

Today â?? three years later â?? Wenzel is cancer-free.

The journey gave this former church secretary a new calling.

â??Iâ??ve found that a lot of people were anxious to tell me their story,â?? Wenzel said. She is now training to become a mentor for other breast cancer patients through the American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery program.

"Everybody thinks that it's the end of the world, and it is not,â?? Wenzel said.

For Wenzel, breast cancer opened new doors for her to impact other lives. The threat of her cancer returning is always there. But Wenzel says sheâ??ll cross that bridge when she gets there, because she knows there can be rich life after cancer.

â??If it is, it is. I got through it once, I'll get through it again," Wenzel said.