JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Battling Breast Cancer is a family affair for a pair of Jacksonville Beach sisters.
Ann Eastwick, 64, and her sister Susan Biehler, 59, were both diagnosed with breast cancer weeks apart last year.
Eastwick was diagnosed in May 2016. After learning the news, she immediately called her younger sister.
“On the way home from that appointment I called my sister coming over the JTB bridge and said ‘can you meet me at Longhorn for a glass of wine?’” Eastwick said with a laugh.
She underwent a bilateral mastectomy in July. Eastwick had no idea Biehler, who cared for her post-surgery, was diagnosed with a more advanced breast cancer the day after Eastwick’s surgery.
“I didn’t want her to worry about me,” Biehler said of her decision not to tell her sister. “It was her time to get the love and care from our family and friends.”
Two weeks later, in the company of Eastwick’s daughter, Biehler came clean.
“I was sitting across from her and she said ‘I have cancer too,’” Eastwick said. “And I said ‘What?’…And I said ‘Really, I can’t have anything of my own?’” Eastwick said laughing.
Biehler underwent her own surgery in August. Both sisters went through chemotherapy and Biehler also had radiation.
Throughout her treatment, Biehler continued working as a second grade teacher at San Pablo Elementary.
Fast forward one year, both are now cancer free. They credited their strength to a sister’s support.
“I was like calling her going 'I can’t sleep!” Eastwick said. “And she’d say yeah, been there, done that.”
“It was hugely comforting to have my sister know emotionally what I was going through and being able to empathize together,” Biehler said.
Their best advice to women going through a battle of their own is to always reach out for support, whether to friends, family or resources at the hospital or local organizations.
For the sisters, who lost their mother to breast cancer at 52, this isn’t the end of their story but a new chapter.
“I know when my mother said ‘I’m done,’ I understood that,” Eastwick said. “But I don’t think either of us are there yet.”
“No,” Biehler added. “Too much fun to have.”