Ruby Rubin never expected to get breast cancer. But with the support of family and friends, she was able to thrive during treatment and come out stronger after.

Even when detected at an early stage, a breast cancer diagnosis can come as a shock. But once the initial emotions wear off, you can start to prepare for the road ahead. And the right strategies can help you maintain a sense of normalcy as you go through your breast cancer journey.

To understand more about how people can maintain their physical, social, and emotional health during breast cancer, Healthline spoke with Ruby Rubin, a yoga teacher and animal conservationist who underwent treatment for early breast cancer in 2023.

This interview has been edited for brevity, length, and clarity.

It’s a total disruptor.

I was diagnosed in April 2023. I had eight plane reservations ready for the summer. And I had to cancel every single trip.

I didn’t expect it to happen. One day, I was fine, and the next day, I had breast cancer. And so I had a bit of disbelief.

I don’t have any family history of breast cancer, and I guess numbness would be a good way to describe how I felt. Like, “My life has just made a turn that I was not expecting. And I’m on this journey whether I like it or not.”

I have great family and friends, but I was still shocked at how much my “earth angels” dropped everything to help me out.

I split my time between Indiana and Maine, and I also lived in Florida for 12 years, so I have friends all over.

I was initially diagnosed in Indiana, and that’s where I had a double mastectomy. I stayed with my daughter for 10 days after the procedure, even though she was 9 months pregnant. The first morning I was there, after leaving the hospital, my oldest grandchild put his sweet head in my lap and said, “I’m sorry, Nana.” It was the best medicine ever! Then, I left so my daughter could get herself ready for her second baby.

Meanwhile, my other daughter sent much-needed gifts that I wasn’t even aware that I would benefit from and would make life easier. She also told me about Camp Breastie, a 4-day summit where people impacted by breast and gynecologic cancer come together. It happened to take place 4 days before I started chemo, so I decided to attend. Four hundred women from all over the world were there to play, learn, and create a community of support. A dear friend kept my dog, Zoey, for me during that time.

After that, a friend from Florida flew up to stay with me, and she walked my dog since I couldn’t handle walking her myself. She also helped me pack my camper, which I travel in. The day she flew out, another friend flew in from Maine to help drive me back to Maine.

When I was in Maine, a different friend from Florida came up for the 2 months I was doing chemo to be my caretaker. I did ask a dear friend to let Zoey out on the days I would go through chemo because that ended up being a very long 5 hours in the chair and almost an hour drive both ways.

Friends came over to my house in Maine and helped me clean up the yard from the winter, get my garden planted, and set up my house for chemotherapy. It was just incredible. Then, my sister came for the last infusion and stayed with me for a week.

My 93-year-old mom called me twice a day during the entire process. Every morning, she said, “Good morning, sunshine. How are you doing today?” It was so endearing.

For the most part, people just offered to help me, which was such a gift.

I have a really good massage therapist, which is imperative. After the double mastectomy, my intercostal muscles (in the chest and rib area) were all really tender and sore, which she would work. My scar is more than halfway around my body, and the surgery impacted my whole torso and went into my arms, affecting my whole body.

I rolled out my yoga mat as much as I could, and there were definitely some postures that made me feel better. My range of motion was very limited after the double mastectomy, so my yoga practice was definitely altered. But yoga meets you wherever you are. When I felt nauseous during chemo, doing the Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose was comforting.

During the 2 months of chemo, my infusion schedule was every other week. The care team would give me 3 days of steroid pills after an infusion, which kept me up and feeling good. But the fourth day was a big crash. I would experience extreme fatigue. I kept water, my phone, and something to read at my side so I didn’t have to keep getting up.

I also had some chemo “brain fog,” so I put reminders on my phone so I wouldn’t forget things.

At some points during chemo, it even felt like it was hard to swallow water. I ended up in the hospital due to dehydration. The oncology team didn’t care what kind of fluid I drank. They said, “You just have to keep drinking.”

After that, I called it “The Summer of Ice Cream,” and I would eat ice cream because it would ease my throat enough for me to be able to drink something. My taste buds changed a lot, and mouth sores aren’t pleasant. I couldn’t drink my favorite tea during the worst times. Plain water didn’t taste good anymore, so I started drinking coconut water and seltzer water so I could at least get the fluid in me. I would change up the liquids as much as possible.

At the very end of the treatment, I used an infrared sauna, which gave me a little vitality. I had to double-check to see if it was OK to heat the port up, and I got the green light from my care team.

I wasn’t allowed to swim, but my house in Maine is on the water, and I have a small boat with a trolling motor on it. I would take Zoey on it and go out in the water to watch the sunset or just to savor the best of nature.

Positive affirmations helped me daily. I also took time to look at my new body in the mirror, allowing myself to feel my feelings and start accepting the new.

People kept saying during treatment, “You’re doing so well.” And I really believe it was because I had such good energy around me. People were always very positive, very helpful, very kind. And that just goes a long way.

Friendship is the dearest thing in this world. Even if you’re dealing with cancer, don’t ever let your friends forget that you appreciate them. Focus on the good feelings and enjoy every moment possible.

And remember that you will get through it. There is life after breast cancer, even if it looks different than before. I have embarked upon a 6-month Oncology Yoga certification course so that I may be able to give back and serve this population. Worst club, best members ever!

This fall I’m embarking on a journey motoring west on Route 66 to celebrate my life and to share the experience with anyone who wants to join me. I will be doing a check in often with mini yoga moments, breathwork, walking meditations and more. For more details as it unfolds visit

Ruby Rubin, 66, was diagnosed with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer in April 2023. Within three weeks, she had a double mastectomy, followed by two months of chemotherapy. She is now cancer-free and finished with treatment. A yoga teacher and animal conservationist, she splits her time between Mount Vernon, Maine, and Westfield, Indiana. Rubin has two grown daughters, four grandchildren, and a service dog named Zoey.