MOLLIE ADLER: LONG ISLAND BROWNIE-PRENEUR & AMBASSADOR OF "BOOBS DON'T DEFINE YOU"
Mollie Adler, Survivor
March 27, 2018
Featuring the inspirational biographies of actual survivors and their road back to wellness. Appreciate each spirit as they share a complete account of the most difficult chapter of their lives- from enduring the darkest hours to defining the mission to overcoming the traumatic obstacles and adversities of battling their cancer. In solidarity with those undergoing similar overwhelming challenges, Survivor Stories brings the message of perseverance and faith in a battle worth fighting.
Meet Mollie Adler - an inspiration to so many who are undergoing adversity from cancer and the many tribulations of life's surprises. Mollie took charge of breast cancer and rose beyond the afflictions of divorce and financial struggles with a remarkable new business driven to climb the corporate ranks of an expanding enterprise. Her story brings great insight to her spirit and true self-empowerment on how she turned life's many road blocks into a path to personal success.
In February of 2016, I went for a routine mammogram and was called back for a Biopsy. During my biopsy I had a spooky feeling that I had breast cancer. Before I was even told, I broke down and I cried for a few minutes. This is not supposed to happen to me. I am too young to die. I have two young kids who depend on me for everything. I have not done everything that I was meant to do…I have more life to live!!
I finally got myself together from the teary grief session and went home. The next day the doctor officially diagnosed me with extensive DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ) in my right breast. Once the doctor officially announced what I had, I looked at him and said, "I don't have time for this crap..." [chuckle] I proceeded to say with a smile, “Ok…now what? What do I have to do to get rid of the cancer?” From that point on, I chose to face my breast cancer with a smile and treated it as just a mere blip in my plans.
The scariest part of this diagnosis is that I did not have a lump, nothing felt different. DCIS is cancer of the milk ducts. My cancer was 5cm of what appeared like granules of sand throughout my right breast. The doctor told me, had I not gone for the mammogram, within about a week or so I would have been far worse than I am, so thank God for mammograms.
MAKING THAT DECISION
The moment when they diagnosed me, LIFE was my main option. What was coursing through my veins was that I have too much ahead of me and I have young kids which meant fighting this with everything I've got. As a single mom...I realized that I had to scrape myself off the floor emotionally... not only am I my children’s rock…this now required me to become Mt. Everest for them.
I was originally told that I could possibly do a Lumpectomy or remove my breasts and replace them with implants. Upon further evaluation my team of doctors informed me that to ensure the best possible outcome for me Lumpectomy was no longer a safe option. It was recommended that I remove my right breast completely, I was also informed that if I were to keep the left breast I had a 30% chance of getting cancer again… The choices that I was left with...started to narrow very quickly.
Another zippy twist came when the consensus from my team of doctors was that due to my chronic medical conditions it would be catastrophic If I were to get an infection from the implants. No plastic surgeon would take that risk and perform that procedure on me…so no implants. Once the option of implants was off the table…the struggle became real. Many tears were shed all the while feeling a sense of calmness surrounding me. The phrase “Just not today” became my catch phrase.
Do I roll the dice with a high risk of re-occurrence & have a Unilateral mastectomy (Removal of 1 breast) keep my left breast with all of the grueling treatments, or Double mastectomy and no treatments as long as my margins came back clear…with my only possible option for reconstruction is having fat reconstruction surgery which is taking fat from another part of your body to create breasts which comes with a multiple surgeries & very high risk , OR do I choose Double Mastectomy, live life flat without any breasts at all.
After all my research and reviewing the options presented to me, I elected to pursue a double mastectomy. Knowing that the Right Breast had to get removed & the left breast had about a 30% chance of getting cancer, so removing both my breasts seemed like a no-brainer. My decision was firm, and I didn't look back. Knowing about this type of cancer, I was lucky that it didn't go into my lymph nodes. I caught it very early, so I was considered a stage 0, but it was rapidly spreading on the right side. It was an agonizing decision to make but I knew the choice I made was the best choice for me.
I underwent the double mastectomy in April 2016, and then in December 2016 I had to remove what are called dog ears. Dog Ears refers to extra skin left over after double mastectomy. I had to have that extra skin removed, because it was extraordinarily painful, in doing so this would allow my scars to lay flush with my body.
Formerly a G-cup, I live my life now as flat (no breasts, no nipples). I am also an advocate for women who are going through breast cancer & any woman who feels that their body is not what society dictates it should be. My wish is to Inspire, Empower, & give Hope! I want to show all women that you are beautiful no matter what your body looks like!! I want those women who are faced with the same choice as myself to have double mastectomy to understand & know that you will be beautiful even without your boobs... Boobs don't define you!
WITH GREAT HELP FROM TRUE FRIENDS
My two great friends Denise Rohde & Donna Schecker were both with me throughout the whole process. Once I was diagnosed, they both stepped up to the plate, and did everything from regularly visiting to draining my drains, driving me to every doctor visit, sleeping over and caring for my kids, cooking, cleaning, bathing me, helping me to the bathroom, and even brushing my teeth. They were there every step of the way from the second I went into surgery 'til I opened my eyes. My Sister in law Leigh McKenna Adler was 7 months pregnant and came to care for me as well for the first 3 days... I'm eternally grateful for all their support through all this.
Shortly before my Breast Cancer Surgery, I was also introduced to Jennifer Hunt and Christine Romano (Fight Like a Girl Team) these two Amazing Women were there instantly to help support me & my kids both financially and emotionally. This group is made up of so many strong, brave ladies, and I couldn't have done this without their support.
LIFE ADVERSITIES & THE RISE OF MISS MOLLIE'S BROWNIES
"My mission is to let people know that anything is possible--and that if you set a goal and put your mind to it you can do anything. If I can inspire just one person, if I can do that, it makes everything I went through worth it."
Prior to cancer, I was a stay-at-home mom for quite a long time. I was divorced in 2013 which meant going back to work. I was laid-off in September of 2015, this was my second layoff within a few years, and I was tired of working for others and getting nowhere. This left me once again scrambling to pay the bills and put food on the table, forcing me to go on Food Stamps & unemployment. Through that process, the dept of Labor provided a program that gave me the resources to start a business. I knew there had to be something better out there. I decided that the next thing I do is going to be something that I love, something that I was passionate about, and baking was my best bet. Within three months I wrote my business plan, marketing plan, had labels designed, perfected my recipe and Miss Mollie’s Brownies, Inc. was born!
As my divorce resulted in my home going into foreclosure, my brownies business became a creative outlet for personal empowerment and way for me to bake to try and save my home and put food on the table. I was determined to just put brownies in anybody's mouth who would eat them. If I was not faced with enough adversity, I also have the unique challenge with the inability to taste & smell. Yes, I am a Baker Who Can’t taste or smell! Lacking a sense of taste and smell, I eat, and bake based on presentation and texture. My kids are my Certified Taste Testers…trust me, there are no complaints there. Every single batch is tasted before it goes out the door!
Each brownie package has “My Story,” written and illustrated by my daughter Melanie. It's just from that beautifully written story I get so many humbling responses and it makes it so worthwhile to keep doing what I'm doing, which is just getting my message out there.
I got the business up and running in full swing by January 12, 2016. I was so amazed at the craze for MY brownies!! Brownies that I cannot even taste. Things were heading in such an amazing direction... then "BANG!" February 12, 2016…YOU HAVE BREAST CANCER!
After my surgery in April 2016, my mother flew up here from the Virgin Islands for a long-past reunion, and because she was diagnosed around that time with Kidney cancer herself. Upon her arrival, I was supposed to meet her and take her to my oncologist in Riverhead, but due to the severity of her cancer, she collapsed getting into the car on the way to me and expired unexpectedly. Losing a mom this way is dreadful, but even more so because I never got that validating hug that can only come from that one special person - letting me know that boobs don't define you. I knew she was very proud of me and as a single mom herself of 10 children, her unique strength and remarkable spirit lives on in me.
Somewhere in between grieving the loss of my breasts and the loss of my mom, I have once again found solitude in baking. By early 2017, I restarted the business once again. I'm back at the Port Jeff Farmers' Market every Sunday, and my brownies are gaining more popularity as they appear in stores such as Greek Island Diner in (Wading River), Bagel Lady Café (Shoreham) and Theatre Three (Port Jefferson). My Motto…Don’t Look Back…Keep going forward…So I'm moving forward, and my goals are to get on Shark Tank & one day become a household name! We'll keep on making the world a sweeter place one brownie at a time until we get there.