When Sarah Frederick was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35, her perspective on life shifted dramatically. “I was just in disbelief,” said Frederick, who is now 40 and in remission. “I never would have thought I would have cancer. It was overwhelming.”
While Frederick had been healthy for most of her life, she started to struggle with weight in her later years of high school and college. “Life got busy and my health became less of a priority,” she said. At doctor visits, her bloodwork was always healthy, which might have been a detriment because it did not necessarily force her to take immediate action. “I was overweight, but otherwise healthy.”
A Life-Changing Diagnosis
She went in once for a regular checkup and her doctor suggested she get a baseline mammogram because of her family history. Frederick had no idea it would lead to a cancer diagnosis. “It was Sept. 19, 2013 when I was told I had breast cancer,” she said. Ironically, she had just signed up to participate in an American Cancer Society Walk, an organization she had supported since college. “My diagnosis made the walk that much more meaningful,” she said.
She quickly scheduled her bilateral mastectomy for the day after the walk to ensure that she could participate in the event. Following surgery, she had chemotherapy and was put on two medications, including an estrogen suppressor that she was prescribed to take for 10 years. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of her new medications was weight gain. “I was 5’2 and started noticing that when I was taking the stairs, it would wear on my knees and my ankles,” she said. “It was a feeling that I wasn’t used to.”
A Game-Changing Referral
Eventually, she weighed 250 pounds and grew frustrated with how she felt and looked, despite having endured the breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. “I didn’t have health issues, but I was uncomfortable in my skin,” she said. At a doctor visit, she asked about surgical options for weight loss. Her doctor said she would support what Frederick wanted to do, but asked her to first consider something that had worked for her own health journey – Profile by Sanford.
Frederick wasted little time and heeded her doctor’s advice. She signed up, stayed on plan and lost 65 pounds. “What was so striking to me in the first couple weeks was seeing the scale move right away and that makes it easy to stick with it,” she said.
Sarah’s journey, however, has not been without its share of hurdles and temptations. She recalls sitting in her office one day when her boss brought in donuts to celebrate a work achievement. “These two boxes of donuts sat outside my office all day, but in that moment I was able to say ‘no’ because I could already see that what I was doing was working,” she said.
A New Life
Frederick now has a new lease on life, living through the lens of her breast cancer experience and a healthy outlook on eating and exercise. Her husband soon joined her and signed up for Profile. “I started doing all kinds of new things,” she said, including working out, running and spending time in the great outdoors. A coworker who has long been committed to exercising during lunch invited Frederick to join her. Frederick agreed, and it soon became a habit. “Pretty soon I missed it if I didn’t go,” she said.
Frederick and her husband started looking for something fun and active to do in the winter and settled on ice skating lessons. It brought back memories of the last time she was on ice – overweight. “It was so hard on my ankles and knees and uncomfortable,” she said. “I made it around the rink once or twice.” It was different now, and they both enjoyed it enough to invest in their own skates. The couple also bought kayaks. “This has led to a more active lifestyle,” she said. “We just went all in and made an overall lifestyle change.”
She encourages others to take ownership of their health as well. “If you want all the conditions to be perfect and optimal, it’s never going to happen,” she said. “Once you do it and look back you will see how easy and effective it is and wonder why you waited so long and wasted so much time when you could have been enjoying life the way you are now.”
The cancer diagnosis helped her realize the fragility of life, and it was just enough of a push to make a change. “Without it, I would still be sitting here overweight, feeling stuck,” she said. “Having gone through breast cancer, I want to have a full, active life. Profile’s helped me do that and I’m so grateful that I joined!”