Dawn Oswald: Finding Support and Giving Back to Others
— Abby Padilla, ABCD Marketing & Communications Specialist
May 5, 2023
Dawn was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. At the time, she had the support of her family including her loving husband, who was with her at every treatment. But in 2018, when Dawn faced a recurrence and new diagnosis of metastatic cancer, she realized she needed support from those who had walked in her shoes.
Dawn learned about ABCD through LACE (Life After Continuing Education), a support group affiliated with the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. ABCD matched Dawn with a Mentor who knew what she was going through. Dawn found this support invaluable and felt inspired to give back to others who were going through similar experiences. In 2021, Dawn became a Mentor herself and has since mentored over 27 women with metastatic breast cancer from all over the country.
For Dawn, mentoring means providing emotional support and giving hope to others. She knows firsthand the devastating impact of a cancer diagnosis and the challenges that come with it. Dawn recalls that when she was first diagnosed, she felt the effects of limited access to breast cancer resources at a time when she needed them most. Now five years from her recurrence, Dawn says, “You have to stay positive. I tell all my Participants, take it one day at a time and go from there and find what gives you peace.”
Dawn’s passion for writing has played a significant role in her cancer experience. She has been composing poetry since her school days, and rediscovering this talent has helped her connect with her feelings. Dawn hopes that her work can be a source of comfort and understanding to others facing cancer. Over 15 of her poems can be found on SurvivingBreastCancer.org; a recent one, “Lymphedema,” raises awareness about the condition. In addition, Dawn’s poem, “The Plane,” was published in Wildfire Magazine, which focuses on the survivorship experience of young people diagnosed with breast cancer. When she’s not writing, Dawn also finds great joy and purpose in crocheting beanies and donating them to women experiencing hair loss.
Despite facing her own challenges with metastatic breast cancer, Dawn remains committed to helping others. She believes that having a support system and access to resources can make a significant difference for people facing breast cancer. “We talk about legacy when we have metastatic breast cancer, and my legacy is just to help other people,” Dawn says. ABCD is grateful to Dawn for her 21 years of service in the US Military and for sharing her compassion, strength, and words to bring hope, understanding, and guidance to others.
Dawn Oswald was diagnosed in 2008 with Stage 2 ER+PR-HER2- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. In 2018, Dawn was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastasis to the lung and bones. She underwent chemotherapy and was on hormonal and targeted therapies. Dawn passed away from breast cancer in December 2023.