IBR Alumni: Joyce's Story
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
My name is Joyce Hanson. I have always believed in living my life to the fullest and experiencing as much as I can. I have travelled outside the US, lived all across the US and worked on my bucket list as much as I could. Everyone that knows me knows that I love television and movies. I had the fortune to have worked in the entertainment industry and loved seeing a lot of the behind the scenes workings being able to spend time on the Sony Pictures lot.
One of the items that was on my bucket list for a long time was to be able to be one of those people in the bleachers on the red carpet of an awards show. In the spring of 2013, my friend Jennifer called me to let me know that she put her name on a wait list for the 2014 Golden Globe Red Carpet Package. We had to wait until late November to find out that we did get seats for the package!!! It wasn’t cheap, but we knew this was a bucket list item for both of us, a once in a lifetime chance.
We had a blast. It was so much to take in and so much fun, before we went home we decided we wanted to go again the next year. The day the wait list opened up, I called and got my name on it. What I didn’t know at the time is how life changing the next 12 months would be for me. In July, I started the interview process for a new job that would require me to commute 75 miles each way, but it was a great opportunity. In August, I found a lump in my left breast. Because I was still in the interview process, I decided to wait and see how that went before seeing the doctor. I got the job and started at the end of September. After I received the offer letter, I got the call that once again we had seats for the Golden Globe Red Carpet Package. I had mixed emotions about the news because I knew I would have to wait until the end of October to go in for a mammogram. I told Jennifer that we would still plan on going, keeping in mind the plans may need to change.
After my mammogram, they wanted to do a biopsy. I got the biopsy results the week before Thanksgiving. My first reaction was this is the first step in my being a Breast Cancer Survivor. Throughout the process I was determined to keep as positive of an attitude as I could. I didn’t know how my new employer was going to react to my need for the time off so early in my job. There was no need to worry, Oshkosh Corp was wonderful and very supportive for anything I needed. We were able to schedule my double mastectomy the week before Christmas. I knew I couldn’t be on the red carpet the second week of January. I insisted that my friend go without me, so she found another friend to go with her, but she texted me constantly throughout the weekend. My circle of friends was also wonderful and helped me through everything. In May, I had my reconstructive surgery. I was very lucky that I did not have to go through radiation or chemotherapy. One thing I kept in mind through the process was that I was going to be at the Golden Globes the next year.
I did go the next year. It was hard because I still didn’t have a lot of energy, but I was so happy to be able to make the trip again. My friend Jennifer was great about accommodating my restrictions which I appreciated so much. We also went to Los Angeles later in January to be in the bleachers for the red carpet of the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Last spring, I saw a feature on the morning news about Breast Cancer Recovery and the Infinite Boundaries Retreats, I was moved to tears. I immediately went to their website and decided I needed to attend a retreat. I knew I had not yet dealt with the emotional side of having had breast cancer and I had been looking for a support group or organization to help me. I attended the retreat last June in Door County and it was life changing. I had no idea to what extent I needed to look at my emotions and accept what I had gone through. It was comforting to hear other women’s stories and I no longer felt alone. The girls from my retreat are now my sisters stay in touch through Facebook. It is nice to know they are a message away if I need them. I plan to volunteer at retreats in the future so I can give to other women what was so generously given to me by our volunteers.
We went to the Golden Globes again this year and I was feeling good and did not have to worry about getting worn out. I was feeling good and healed which reminded me of my experience the first year. I also went to the Screen Actors Guild red carpet. It is nice to be back to living my life to the fullest and working on my bucket list again!
Joyce Hanson, 2016 Bjorkland, Door County