Wiersma was 34 years old when she found the lump that turned out to be breast cancer. “The diagnosis was seen as a death sentence then," she recalls. After surgery, she was told, "Be hopeful you’re alive in five years." When she returned to volunteer work at her children’s school, the sad faces that greeted her spoke volumes: "They looked at you as if you were dying."
“Wiersma, however, spent little time worrying about or discussing the disease,” writes Thoms. “She was too busy: She had four young children and was studying to become a nurse. When Betty Ford also moved on with her life after breast cancer, Wiersma felt validated.”