Our October Girl of The Month is Sally Hahn. We had the privilege of getting to know more about her and her story as she so beautifully and eloquently told it. She’s a lover of life and sees beauty in the things that sometimes are glazed over. She’s committed to her family, friends, and community. She is a loving wife (just celebrated 30 years!), a mom of two wonderfully smart and compassionate young adults, and she is a puppy lover (like big time). She has overcome obstacles and walked through life circumstances that have given her deep insight and beautiful teachings. She is excellently balanced in her depth and lightheartedness. We are so excited to share with you the things that Sally has shared with us…
Breast Cancer Journey
Sally on her Breast Cancer Journey from the beginning…
“I have always had what is called “dense breasts.” This has meant annual call backs from my annual mammogram for a sonogram. In December 2016 I went for my annual mammogram and received the call back for the callback. They indicated that they received a poor image and needed to reshoot. Nothing about any concerns so we planned our holiday away and had a wonderful time. January 3rd, 2017 I returned for the callback. Things proceeded as they had in prior years until the second set of technicians came in and took me to a machine that I had never seen before and more people than normal were reviewing my films. At this point, I called my husband and shared my “I don’t think it’s going so well this time” thinking. I went through the next “screening” and was met with the “we found something suspicious and need you to schedule a biopsy” message.
We immediately scheduled the biopsy and received the news that my gut told me was coming…”you’re in the club.”
My husband and I very quickly, spoke with a small group of friends and others we trust, to identify potential health care providers and teams, for what was going to be a bumpy road. We met with several options and after meeting with the amazing, talented, communicative, and compassionate people at Montefiore Medical Center in NY, we had our team. Dr. Sheldon Feldman (Chief of Breast Surgery and Surgery Oncology) did an amazing job of walking us through the situation, the diagnosis and the options and Dr. Katie Weichman worked closely with us to understand our reconstruction options. My first surgery was February 2017 (mastectomy and reconstruction…12 hours, two teams) and my second was in April 2017.
While the recovery from the first surgery was difficult, I made sure to, wherever possible, quickly inject some form of normalcy or routine back into my day. Get up, move around, get dressed, get the mail. I knew we turned the corner when I was sitting in a movie theater (love movies…especially ones with The Rock), a week or so after getting home, albeit with bandages drains and tubes! Comparatively, the second surgery was a walk in the park… however both kept me away from the water (Sally grew up sailing and is so keen on the water..more on this later)!
Summer 2018… back to “normal”… albeit a new normal. Diet and nutrition wise, very little to no animal products as my choice in medicine have been grounded in “Eastern” thinking. I’ve embraced meditation, doubled my commitment to Bikram yoga, tripled my volunteer efforts, avoid negative people and situations, and whenever possible surround myself with puppies.”
Telling us about her support system…
“In much of my “breast cancer journey speak” I use the word “we”. The “we” is my family and I. My husband and my kids. My husband was by my side (perhaps a bit too much!) the entire time. We informed our kids immediately upon diagnosis and shared our plan. We let them know that we actually were lucky… having caught it early, had a great team in place and committed to keeping them informed every step along the way. Both were busy beginning to build their post-college existence and we wanted to make sure they were informed, as adults, but at the same time, we didn’t want to derail their lives. They behaved and responded wonderfully. They too have wonderful friends who I’m certain, played a role in helping them move through this. I’m an extremely private person and let very few people into my life. I learned just how wonderful those few are. They organized a support effort that I was overwhelmed and somewhat embarrassed by. Meals, errands, visits, walks. I was blessed, very lucky and felt very loved.”
Key things Sally learned on her journey…
- Accept help. People want to help.
- Get back to routine and “normal” as quickly as possible.
- Listen to your body… trust your instincts and gut.
- Find that thing that you love to do and do that thing..more!
- It’s unrealistic to be positive all the time. It’s ok.
- Puppies are good (knew that already though… worth repeating).
Her advice to those dealing with breast cancer (but is certainly amazing insight for all):
“Take things one day at a time… progress will probably come more slowly than you’d like, especially with something like this that you want “over and dealt with” immediately. Learn as much as you can, enlist and embrace others along the way, ask for help and then when you are on the other side, celebrate every day and spoil yourself.”
Fashion / Style
Sally’s style is very classic, and she’s not afraid of color. Her husband says that she’s a “British Racing Green, ’67 Jaguar XKE Roadster with a bright, canary yellow racing stripe.”
Style go-to’s: Sweatshirt and shorts on a cool summer evening at the beach with a Red Sox hat. She loves vintage and says, “In another life, I was poolside in the Bahamas during the 60’s in Pucci.”
Career / Lifestyle
Professionally, Sally spent many years in publishing working on publications like Sailing World, Power and Motor Yacht, Golf Digest, and Tennis Magazine. She turned her love for homes into a career as a Realtor where she has helped people find and move into their new homes for the past 20 years. She expressed that she especially loves helping “wide-eyed and excited young couples” find their home (mostly because she gets to do lots of baby holding!).
Day-to-day, for Sally, nothing beats a long walk with a great dog or sitting quietly with a sleeping puppy on her lap! She has offered her space as a socialization home for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, an organization that raises and trains service dogs that change people’s lives. Regularly, for several days at a time, she welcomes 6-8 week old puppies into her home and work. This is done to expose them to different textures, noises, experiences, and situations. She says, “It’s extremely rewarding, even the part that resembles having a newborn, with the crying at 3 am).
Outside of work and volunteering her time, she is a voracious reader..often having two or three books going at a time. Post-diagnosis, she took up knitting and says that she has found peace and tremendous enjoyment from of it. She believes it comes from her post-operative experience because “Immediately upon arriving home from my first surgery, my friends (some long-time knitters and some never knitters) presented me with a blanket. The blanket included squares knitted by each of them (some more technically correct than others!), bound together as a single warm envelope within which, I would heal. This blanket, along with a painting of my soul mate Tucker (our Yellow Lab who passed a few years ago) are the two “run into a burning home to retrieve” items.”
The Pitusa Quiz
Star Sign? Sagittarius
Preferred workout? Bikram
Fav vacation destination? Nantucket
Any morning ritual? Meditation, affirmation, heavy green drink, foam rolling
Coffee, smoothie, or tea? Coffee
Favorite charity? Everything animal!
Any guilty pleasure? Carvel mint chocolate chip milkshake
Favorite cocktail? A shot of tequila and a cold beer.
Favorite quote? “Kindness is not weakness…meanness is not strength.”