It’s funny how life works. I’d always dreamed of working in a fashion boutique. And now I’m volunteering at a store called “The Finer Collection.” Though the path that brought me here isn’t how I’d imagined it. 

We live in North Attleboro where I’m a stay-at-home mom, taking care of my eight-year-old son, Charlie. But before that I was a kindergarten teacher for 16 years. I retired the day I got my diagnosis. And while I may be “retired,” I have never been busier. Besides working at the boutique, I volunteer at the school library, I kickbox four times a week, I run and I’ve been going to some amazing concerts—T-Swift, Bruno Mars and others.

I’ve also started writing poems and putting memories and photos into journals for Charlie. I want him to have these when I’m gone. 

Not that I plan on going any time soon. They told me I had incurable Stage 4 breast cancer in 2015. I went through 13 rounds of chemo and then was on hormonal and target chemotherapy, which kept me NED (no evidence of disease). Of course, it couldn’t be that easy. This January they found that the cancer was re-growing—now in my liver. And that is why I have a tattoo that says, “Be brave, warrior.”

My team has been great. In fact, when they said I only had to come in for treatment once a month instead of a few times a week I was actually a little bummed. I’ve really grown tight with everyone there—they are like family. One of the nurses saw on Facebook that I was going for a run and she messaged me that it was too hot! 

In many ways this disease has been a blessing. Meeting and reconnecting with so many wonderful people. Doing things I might never have done. I am so grateful for every day. And I look forward to many more. 

—Michelle, North Attleboro MA

UPDATE: Despite her determination and fierceness, cancer warrior and thriver Michelle St. Germaine sadly lost her battle on Tuesday, September 1, 2020.