Join our columnist, Stephanie Gilman, on her quest to lead a meaningful life.

There are a few pivotal moments in our lives when something happens to thrust us in a new direction. Moments when we are thrown off course and find ourselves headed down a new path – on a journey we never expected to be taking.

My pivotal moment began with a lump no larger than a lima bean. One lump, one moment, one quick flash and my life changed forever. By September 2012, I received what I had feared was coming: a breast-cancer diagnosis.

I had just celebrated my 28th birthday a few weeks before. The shock of the news quickly turned into panic. Would I be able to get through chemotherapy? Would I need a mastectomy? Would I still be able to have children? What would happen to my job? But, above all else, I truly worried about one thing and one thing only: Was I going to die?