In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we interviewed Courtney Olsen, a 10-year breast cancer survivor and Darien mom of two. Courtney, who is on the Board of Directors of the Breast Cancer Alliance (BCA), will serve as the organization’s President in April 2022. Don’t miss out on these upcoming events to support the BCA:
Fall Sip & Shop at J. McLaughlin in Darien on Thursday, 10/14 from 10am – 7pm.
The BCA’s 25th Anniversary Luncheon and Fashion Show on 10/20 from 11-2pm. You can purchase tickets at www.breastcanceralliance.org.
Tell us about your family.
I have two kids, Grady (14) and Whitney (11), and my husband Mark.
What brought you and your family to Darien?
I grew up in Darien and my husband, Mark, is from Eastern Long Island, so we settled on Darien because of its convenience to NYC as he is a commuter, and it has a great school system.
What’s your favorite aspect about being part of the community?
I love that Darien is such a loving and supportive community. The residents of Darien come together to assist so many great causes and people especially in a time of need.
You work with an amazing organization called Breast Cancer Alliance. How did you get involved, and can you highlight some of the work you do with them?
I went as a guest of a friend to the luncheon during my treatment and met a board member who encouraged me to get involved with the organization—I have never looked back! I was on the raffle committee, co-chaired our 5K/Walk for a few years, and I am involved with the models of inspiration for our luncheon, fellowship and education and outreach committees in addition to sitting on the Board of Directors. I am excited to be President of the BCA in April 2022.
Favorite part about working with this group?
My favorite part of working with this organization is that it is gratifying and extremely fulfilling. To witness and support the amazing research, education and outreach and fellowships is incredible, and I feel honored to be a part of an organization making meaningful impact that is undoubtedly changing lives for the better. There is a myriad of ways to volunteer for the BCA. You can be a part of any of our research, education and outreach and fellowship committees. There is a teenager committee as well for high schoolers looking to get involved. Anyone can help with our many events that we have throughout the year or share your story of survival to help others.
Tell us a bit about your journey. Is there any advice you would give to other women who have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer?
My journey…I found a lump on my right breast in May 2011 at the age of 38. I had a lumpectomy in June 2011 performed by Dr. Elisa Port of the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai in NYC. I had no family history of breast cancer. I then had eight rounds of chemotherapy, a month of radiation and am currently in my tenth year of taking tamoxifen which ends this December. I am ten years cancer free!!! I get an MRI and a mammogram every year. I am truly blessed for the love and support of my husband, family and friends.
As far as advice to those recently diagnosed, it is critical to find the best doctor and always get a second opinion. Always get a copy of your imaging. I also recommend during chemo to do a “countdown.” Rather than saying “I have 7 more to endure”—it should be “I have one done”—all in the mindset. Eat what you want and what makes you feel better, as your appetite may fluctuate. With the proper resources, support and a positive attitude, you can overcome this disease.
Do you have any go-to ways to relax and get a little “me time?”
As far as relaxing, I love to take walks with my dog, especially around Long Neck Point and Pear Tree Beach. A pedicure at Williams and Company is always a nice treat as well.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
“The days are long, but the years are short, so try and be present and enjoy every moment.”
Favorite words of wisdom:
“Tell the story of the mountain you’ve climbed; your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide.”-Morgan Harper Nichols
How can people support the Breast Cancer Alliance?
We encourage everyone to buy a ticket to our 25th Anniversary Luncheon and Fashion Show on 10/20 from 11-2pm. You can purchase tickets at www.breastcanceralliance.org. I’m also hosting an event at J. McLaughlin in Darien on Thursday, 10/14 from 10am – 7pm.
We like to support local businesses. What are your favorite places in the area to:
Have dinner: Elm in New Canaan and Papa Joe’s in Darien
Grab a drink: 1020 Post in Darien
Have a date night: Sails in Rowayton
Spend time together as a family outdoors: We enjoy going on our boat and exploring! We love the new Cisco Brewery in Stamford and The Wheel restaurant. They have live music and food trucks.
Grab coffee: Cafe Neat
Workout: At home on the Peloton, and the Peloton App is great too!