Synchrony Survivors: Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2023 — Virginia S.

Introducing our “Synchrony Survivors” – Stories of Strength, Resilience, and Hope.

In our ongoing mission to provide support and inspiration to those facing life’s toughest challenges, we’re proud to present “Synchrony Survivors.” This platform is dedicated to the remarkable Team Members who have triumphed over breast cancer and are now eager to share their stories of resilience, encouragement, and hope.

Our first story comes from Virginia Schlenker, COTA, a survivor from Novi, MI. Her journey through breast cancer is a testament to the power of determination, the importance of a supportive medical team, and the unyielding spirit of survivorship.

Virginia’s message of hope and strength shines through as she offers invaluable advice to those currently battling breast cancer, emphasizing the significance of second opinions, support groups, and the power of documenting one’s journey through journaling.

She also highlights the importance of family and friends in the healing process and the power of maintaining a positive outlook. Virginia’s inspiring words and her dedication to fighting breast cancer are nothing short of extraordinary.

Together, we can uplift, inspire, and support one another through life’s challenges.


What message of hope or encouragement would you like to share with others who are currently facing a breast cancer diagnosis or undergoing treatment?

What I would say it is not the end of the world.  Make sure you get a second opinion, join a support group.  Write in a journal documenting your journey helps a lot.  Most importantly a good and caring medical team is key.  Involve your families and friends with your treatment.  Have a loved one with you throughout your journey.  Make sure you ask questions to your physician about the treatments, surgeries etc.

Can you highlight a specific moment or source of inspiration that helped you stay strong and positive throughout your breast cancer journey?

What I did was write in my journal everyday.  I exercised as much as possible, kept working throughout my journey and most important stay positive. 

Many people draw strength from the stories of survivors. What personal mantra or piece of advice guided you during your battle with breast cancer, and how can it inspire others?

My nurse practitioner who was my angel told me to do everything I can to fight breast cancer.  Other women fighting breast cancer inspired me especially my mom who unfortunately passed away I thought of her daily and that inspired me the most.  Stay strong and positive. 

Do you have any additional anecdotes as a part of your story you would like to share?

My mother died in 1981 at age 41 of stage 4 breast cancer.  My sister had breast cancer at 26 years old she survived and had three healthy children.

I am a 12 year survivor of breast cancer.   It was October of 2011 I decided to get a mammogram and I was called back because my first mammogram was abnormal.  A diagnostic mammogram was done it was abnormal.  I had to get a core needle biopsy which the result was stage 2 invasive ductal  carcinoma.  I was devastated.

I had a lumpectomy and six rounds of chemo and 6 weeks of radiation.  I endured losing my hair, hives, loss if energy and  allergic reactions.  It was very tough.  I worked as an CoTA full time while undergoing treatments.

 About four years later I was tested for the braca gene and unfortunately I was positive for the Braca gene 2.  I decided to get a prophylactic double mastectomy with reconstruction.  It was a ten hour surgery, difficult recovery, 10 days in the hospital with a collapsed lung.

It was the most difficult journey I have ever faced.  I am eternally grateful for the staff at Huron valley hospital cancer unit as well as my breast and plastic surgeon.  My husband, daughter and extended family.

My daughter has since tested positive for the braca 2 gene

Thank you for reading my story.