Cancer Survivor Series: Sandra Schaffer

Cancer Survivor Series: Sandra Schaffer

“I have everything that anyone could ever need.”

The above statement is not one you would expect from a two-time cancer survivor. Nevertheless, this is the positive outlook Sandra Schaffer maintains after having overcome both breast and thyroid cancer. With the support of family and friends, including Jenny Craig-Brown here at Ideas in Motion Media, Schaffer was able to not only beat cancer, but is living a fulfilling and meaningful life in Valparaiso.

As someone who has made her health a priority over the years, Schaffer was especially shocked to suddenly be thrown into cancer treatment.

“It was a whirlwind,” Schaffer explained. “I came home from working out and I happened to put my hand up to my chest and I felt a lump. My mother knew a surgeon and they got me in the next day.”

Five days later, after a mammogram and biopsy, Schaffer was told that she had breast cancer. On July 21st, Schaffer underwent a double mastectomy to remove the cancer entirely.

“By the grace of God...I didn’t have to have radiation or chemotherapy because my cancer was caught quick enough,” she said. “It was very quick, very fast, which is not normal under any circumstances, but you know at that point it was just get it out. Just get it out.”

With a successful surgery in the past and the risk of a resurgence minimized, Schaffer was sure she was in the clear. However, this past August she got sick once again.

“I got sick in August [2017], went to the emergency room and they [did] a CAT scan and it showed that there was nothing wrong with my kidney,” Schaffer said. “...but they found a lump on my lung, so they did another CAT scan to check the lung, and then they found a whole bunch of nodules on my thyroid.”

An ultrasound was performed, determining that the left-hand side of her thyroid was overcome with cancer. A drastic surgery was required once again, and Schaffer had half of her thyroid removed in December 2017.

“No chemo or radiation - again thank God! I mean for whatever seems like we find it quick enough that I don’t have to have any kind of treatments other than just taking it out,” Schaffer explained.

Now having tangoed with cancer twice, Schaffer is stronger than ever. Nevertheless, it wasn’t always easy, so Schaffer turned to some incredible friends for support.

“I have a very strong group of friends and the people that I work with...they never let me down. They’ve always got my back.” she explained. “Jenny [from Ideas in Motion] has been by my side literally every step of the way. She’s taken me to every appointment, she was there for the surgery.”

This support system is key for Schaffer, but a lot of the support must come from within.

“My biggest thing to say is don’t beat yourself up if it gets overwhelming. Reach out to people, your friends and family, because it’s not all easy. It’s hard. But you can make it through and you can survive it and you can make a just can’t get into that self-loathing thought pattern,” she explained.

While her bout with thyroid cancer still sits in recent memory, Schaffer has resumed normal life, taking special care to monitor her exercise and eating habits and embracing the important things in life.

“I’ve been more conscious of what I’m eating. I work out like a fiend. I love my job...It’s really probably the best life anybody could ever ask for,” she said.