"DENISE IS A BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR AND ADVOCATE, AS WELL AS AN AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST, TELEVISION PRODUCER, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE MOMS AND MAMARAZZI CELEBRITY EVENTS. SHE IS A PROUD DIVORCED MOM OF TWO INCREDIBLE BOYS AND PASSIONATE ABOUT HELPING OTHERS IN THEIR FIGHT AGAINST CANCER AND CURRENTLY LAUNCHING HER NEW VENTURE, MY CANCER FAMILY (MYCANCERFAMILY)."
Upon diagnosis, what was your first thought?
It was terrifying. I couldn’t believe it and I remember thinking that I may not be around to raise my kids. That was truly horrifying. They were only 6 and 9 at the time.
Sometimes it’s hard to “thrive,” we all have days where we are just trying to survive. What is something that gets you through on the hardest days?
I’ve always gotten through hard times by planning things to look forward to. It can be anything from a trip with my kids, a birthday party or celebration for any and all occasions, a date, a drink with a friend, or a girl's getaway!
Who is another woman you have admired on this journey that has shared a similar experience with breast cancer/cancer (please type what type of cancer you had/have)?
There are so many! My friend Gwen was diagnosed a few months after I was and our treatment was the same so we “went through it” together. My friend Ashley was also diagnosed a few months after I was but we had different kinds and very different treatments and I almost feel like it’s a different disease but I admire how she went through it too. There are a lot of women I’ve met through social media I admire all of them for sharing their stories and being open about their own journeys. Sharing helps others in ways you can’t even imagine.
We all need a good support system; who makes up yours?
I have a great family that is led by my mom. She’s my best friend and my biggest supporter. My dad and my sister-in-law are also part of my support system along with many close friends. I have a large family and really incredible friends. My boys are also great support for me now - especially because they’re older (17 and almost 14). We are extremely close and open and honest and talk about everything!
Through your journey, what are some resources you have found that would be helpful to other women?
I really pieced it all together…and found everything overwhelming and really wanted everything in 1 place. Doctors tell you not to google, and I tried to listen but it’s so hard not to. All of my experience led me to where I am today, which is launching a new venture called My Cancer Family. I want to help others diagnosed with Cancer with resources and information and community in one place.
What is something society gets wrong about young women battling breast cancer and cancer in general?
Interesting question. The most important thing is early detection. Every single doctor should make sure women get screened. I think there also should be screenings earlier and also more accessible no matter what your health insurance may be. It’s also important for children of breast cancer patients to start their screening young — even if you don’t have the BRCA gene, family members often should be screened at 25. There’s very little information “out there” about this. My nieces, for instance, along with my boys are supposed to get checked starting at 25. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but if we want to do better, screenings and early detection is EVERYTHING!
You come across another woman who has just received her diagnosis. What is one piece of advice you’d have for them at that moment?
The first thing I always tell every single person who calls or messages me is “this is the hardest time. The unknown. The tests. The appointments. The unknown path”. Hopefully, once you have a plan for treatment, the mental and emotional part will slightly ease up.
Because we have to (we love music here) - what’s the last song you listened to?
My son’s new song. He’s an aspiring artist and went to the studio this weekend and woke up excited to tell me and share it with me, and said it’s his best one yet. Watch out for him!