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Community Gives Day: Portia’s Story


Portia was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2019. She credits regular mammograms for early detection. After her diagnosis, Portia had surgery and then daily radiation for 10 weeks.

The most difficult part of her experience was hearing the word CANCER. “I just froze. It shocked me,” said Portia. “Hearing the C-word and not knowing what was ahead, I felt powerless and defeated, but that did change, fortunately.”

Portia credits many people with helping her through a difficult period, like the nurse at the Imaging Center who helped her not be afraid of the C-word. Portia also relied on her faith. “I knew that if I were to die, that would be ok.”

“I had good support from my family, friends, and faith community,” Portia noted. “Having information from my doctor about exactly what to expect was helpful. They put me in contact with organizations that helped with transportation, meals, and house cleaning, and they connected me with Cancer Support Community.”

One of Portia’s friends was diagnosed around the same time. “It probably sounds awful, but it was good to have friends go through it with me. It was not a journey I made alone, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but it really is a road you cannot travel alone.”

Portia started attending Cooking for Wellness classes and everything changed for her nutrition and health. “After cancer, I went into congestive heart failure and one of the things that was important was the way I ate. Attending the Cooking for Wellness classes has improved my nutrition and given me the confidence to try new recipes. The health benefits of eating properly and learning from the dietitian about the contents of food, like the fat, sodium, and sugar, have been so helpful.”

Asked about her favorite dish, Portia said she likes Chef Jason’s side dishes like roasted potatoes and asparagus, as well as his salmon recipe. Portia says of our cooking classes, “They have been a good experience through Zoom. The healthy recipes are great in staying healthy.”

Asked about her advice to others, Portia said, “I am a firm believer in a positive attitude. Going through treatment is difficult, but a positive attitude really helps. Be proactive, ask questions, take charge of your health, and if a plan isn’t working, change it, and find a team that will work with you.”