We just had the pleasure of sitting down virtually with our amazing JSA Board Member, Elsa Pine, VP of Sales and Business Development at EdgeConneX to learn more about her recent journey with breast cancer, particularly during these trying times of the Covid-19 pandemic. May her story be a source of inspiration for our community, and provide hope during these difficult days.
Q: Let’s begin with the great news first– you just had very successful surgery. Let us know how you are recovering.
I am recovering well, and gaining my mobility quickly. My nerves are finally returning to my left side. And gratefully, my right side is back to normal!
I rode my bike with my son yesterday for quite a few miles!
My spiritual transformation had already begun before this surgery, so my mindset is in ‘GO’ mode. For example, my iPhone music playlist is entitled ‘LET’S DO THIS!!’.
Coming up, I have chemo and radiation, and we just got word that we are still ‘full steam forward’. My next surgery will be the laparoscopic removal of my ovaries, which will shut down the production of estrogen, to keep this cancer at bay.
I have been blessed to already have three amazing kids, so I’m very lucky to have had these body parts and hormones serve their purpose. I will replace them with healing, for me and for others, like my very supportive family and friends.
Q: You also had genetic testing done at the time of your biopsy, why?
My amazing radiologist Dr. Susan Drossman was very surprised by a recent 3-D mammogram that didn‘t catch this fast-growing Lobular Carcinoma. During my biopsy, two out of seven needles bent, giving me a false response. Thank goodness that Dr. Drossman and her entire team make sure everyone also receives genetic testing with their biopsies.
Additionally, as my mom had battled with breast cancer twice twenty years ago, and therefore we had family history, Dr. Drossman also sent the tumor for additional testing to my Mount Sinai’s Dubin Center rockstar team, Dr. Elisa Port and Dr. Hannah Irie.
I received my results within ten days, and I’ll never forget that call.
They tested over 84 genetic variants. I tested positive for BRCA2, a pathogen associated with autosomal dominant hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome. As it turns out, my youngest sister (there are 3 girls in my family), who is 37-years-old, also has this BRCA2 mutation.
Additionally, my sister’s Ancestry DNA Test also revealed our 14% Ashkenazi heritage. Certain genetic disorders are more common in Ashkenazi Jews. So although we never checked my dad’s side of the family previously, we realized we had breast cancer risk on both my mom and my dad’s side.
Q: What life changes did you make to prepare for surgery and for your healing? How did these measures make a positive impact for you?
I immediately changed to a plant-based diet, with lots of beet juice and carrot juice.
I also increased meditation to a few times per day, including a lot of walking meditation which has allowed me to connect even more with nature (birds, wind, trees, flowers). It’s amazing when you are alone walking and not listening to music, how in tune with nature you can become (and it also helps to walk with my two dogs, Peyton and Brady).
In general, I am strengthening and nourishing my body as I prepare for the next steps on my path to healing.
I walked into Mount Sinai West on 3/12 at 12:30 PM, with a planned surgery time of around 2 PM. When I finally came out of recovery at 10:30 PM, the world had changed.
I was in a private room, but I saw the fear in the staff and my husband’s eyes. Something drastically shifted with the energy and I felt it strongly.
When I left the hospital on Saturday morning, the city was so quiet. It was eerie, and yet so peaceful at the same time.
I’ve been in quarantine since 12/30/19, so adapting to these pandemic times was not new for me. I continue to work from home, burn palo santo a few times a day to air the rooms of germs, and also to help keep me calm.
Additionally, and like so many homes across this globe right now, we are burning candles and disinfecting surfaces, like light switches, door knobs, faucets, etc- anything my kids touch often.
My family and I are also preparing for chemo, which begins on 4/15, so very soon. I do have fears, as most chemo patients do, and these fears are multiplied due to Covid-19, but I am digging deep!
Q: What or who has inspired you the most this year?
I have to say, my Reiki Life Coach, Valisha Lasker, owner of Remedy 11, has inspired me to dig deeper into my own soul, to find comfort in love and in peace. She is a miracle worker with crystals, and has been guiding me through with empowering messages. It’s been a wonderful experience to tap into the energy that is within me. I feel my energy moving freely now, not stuck, and able to not just heal me, but heal others.
Q: What are you most grateful for?
I’m very grateful for my family, my amazing medical team, friends, colleagues, and Mother Earth. It is in nature that I’m at my best, and she has taught me to be patient, pause, and just be present. I hope through all of this, we all learn to be a bit more patient and kinder to each other and to Mother Earth. It is through love that transformations happen, and mine is just beginning.
Ms. Elsa, we love you and we are praying for you. We are all sending you our biggest virtual hugs! Thank you for sharing your story and continuing to be a source of inspiration and strength for us. Namaste.