Gildow defeats Breast Cancer

When the breast cancer diagnosis came on Christmas Eve in 2016, Fremont High School psychologist Julie Gildow was shocked.

“I was devastated and scared. I had two small kids, a third-grader and a first-grader,” Gildow said. “I was super scared to tell my parents. Just keeping my emotions intact because I didn’t want my kids to see me scared was the hardest.”

Gildow was diagnosed with stage 2A breast cancer, meaning that the tumor is large but has not spread to the lymph nodes yet.

“[The tumor] hadn’t spread, but it was just over the threshold of being big enough to be stage two, so it was pretty serious that we caught it early,” Gildow said. “It was dangerous and it was scary. However, it had not spread anywhere, so that was good. I checked my lymph nodes and this would be the first place it would spread and it had not spread there yet.”

Her treatment process had its many ups and downs. First, surgery was needed to remove the lump, then a year of chemotherapy and 32 sessions of radiation followed.

“Radiation was really pretty easy. It made me a little tired. . They warned me about it burning me, affecting my skin like a horrible, horrible sunburn, but that really didn’t happen to me so I was lucky,” Gildow said. “Chemo, I lost all my hair, I was nauseous, stomach issues, just tired.”

The diagnosis came as a surprise to Gildow and her family, especially because there was no family history of breast cancer.

“Since we did not have a history in the family, they tested me for 32 different mutations and all were clear. So it’s totally crazy that I got it,” Gildow said.

Even though her treatment was a long, hard process, Gildow continued to push through and do her work as a psychologist at different Fremont Public School buildings.

“I kept pushing through and working. My colleagues stepped up and just helped me when I needed the help coming in to support my buildings,” Gildow said.

After having gone through the fear and pain of having breast cancer, Gildow says that she considers every day a blessing.

“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. You can’t live in fear. But I think about it coming back, I know of friends that have had it come back, and then I think about myself,” Gildow said. “I just worry about my family going on without me, but at the same time, you can’t live that way. You just have to know that every day is a blessing, and you just have to look forward to the opportunities that are still here.”

Gildow’s message to other women experiencing breast cancer is to not be afraid.

“You can get through it. Chemotherapy was horrible and rough, but you can get through this. It’s just a bump in the road and it’s something that you’re going to get through.”