Amy Boulineau saw a mobile mammography van not long ago and had a chilling thought.
“I was not 40. If I was not checking, I don’t think I’d make it to 40,” said Boulineau, 38, who discovered a lump after a self breast exam in June 2015.
With no history of breast cancer in her family, her diagnosis came as a surprise. She was prompted to do a self exam when a friend was diagnosed with cancer. Boulineau had a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.
Boulineau is a special education teacher at A. Brian Merry Elementary School. With her husband and her mother as her top supporters, she also found strength from those she worked with and from the children she teaches.
They made chains of pink paper links they hung at the school. The kids were interested in her losing her hair, and their behavior was at its best when she was receiving her treatment.
“They were scared to upset me. They didn’t want me to feel worse,” she said.
Her mother couldn’t go to the treatments with her but marked each one with a charm for a charm bracelet. The final charm was a bell.
While she received a lot of support with people calling to see how she was doing, she noticed that caregivers sometimes get left behind, and they sometimes need extra encouragement, too. Boulineau credits her husband, Ben, as her caregiver.
“People don’t check on them,” she said. “He was the one who took care of me.”
Boulineau said her bout with cancer has taught her a lot of things about life.
“You have to live life, and let go of all those little things that are not important,” she said.
Also, she said she’s more outspoken now and encourages people to take care of themselves.
“I have also become more aware of how precious life is. I want to go places, see things and have new experiences,” she said.