Anne Milkowski

Special Education Teacher, Occupational Therapist, Cancer Survivor

It forced me to save heavily for my daughter’s college because I wasn’t sure if I’d be there to pay for it and I saved less for my own retirement because at that time I wasn’t expected to have one. So it affected me that way. I think I was more…it was stronger at first, that I would hear people talking about silly things like a bad hair day, and if you’ve been bald you never have a bad hair day again. If you have hair, it’s a pretty good day. A few times people made strange comments to me about “Oh, well, you’d just be happy to be here,” whereas they think they are entitled to some other level of activity and happiness, so that was always strange. For a few years you are very afraid to make plans for  fear that the cancer is going to come back and its going to be more heartbreaking because you can’t live up to your plans. But as time went on, I started to look more towards the future, get less afraid of planning.

Anne Milkowski was born in Worcester, and grew up in Whitinsville Massachusetts with her divorced mother. When her parents remarried, she moved to Falmouth, Cape Cod. She went to the University of New Hampshire for the Occupational Therapy program, and traveled around the country for her internships. She worked at a variety of facilities until getting her master’s degree in special education while living in Illinois. She moved back to Massachusetts when she was 30 and eventually got a job as a special education physical education teacher and OT in a vocational high school. When her daughter was 5, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She struggled through working, caring for a daughter, and chemotherapy only to find another lump within a year of finishing chemotherapy. She then entered an intensive experimental program at Dana Farber. She still works in the vocational high school, and struggles to deal with issues associated with the MCAS testing. She now thinks about her daughter graduating from college and retirement.

Interview
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February 8, 2009
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