As a mother, I could see that my daughter was deeply affected by my illness. She was initially startled by my hair loss and had to get used to my wig, hats and scarves. It was just before the end of her fourth-grade school year when I was in chemotherapy. I decided to tell very few people about my illness at her school in an attempt to keep her daily life as normal as possible.
I stood outside her classroom door during class performances if my white count was low because I risked infection, which would delay completion of my chemo. I lived in constant fear of catching a cold because it would delay chemo and make the journey last even longer.
My family and friends tried to help console me by taking me to my doctors appointments and staying with me at the hospital, but I was inconsolable. The drugs had taken effect and I could no longer taste food or sleep well through the night.
Finally, after a long battle and then slow recovery, I started to regain some of my strength. I was able to sleep better and eat again. I was recovered enough to have a hysterectomy and finish my breast reconstruction.
It was fall, only four weeks after that last surgery when I woke up my daughter early one morning and said, Lets go do it! Off we went to The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure!
I had about a quarter inch of hair on my head and I could barely walk from my hysterectomy, but we did the one-mile fun walk. Afterwards, we went to the survivors tent and had breakfast. It was her chance to meet other families for the first time.
How wonderful it was for her to see other children and their moms who were also facing her ordeal. She was able to see and to chat with so many survivors, their hair grown back. Their spirits strong, it was so reassuring to her that she thanked me repeatedly for bringing her.
My daughters words are something I will always remember. Mommy. before we came to The Race for The Cure, I thought I was the only kid with a mom who had breast cancer. Now I see so many kids with the same situation. And that makes me feel like I am not different!
Total strangers bound by a common connection provided absolute comfort and encouragement to both my then ten-year old daughter and me.
It was at that pivotal moment that I realized that I was part of a large group known as Survivors. They were a powerful group with a strong voice. They were the ultimate source of hope and comfort for me and my daughter.
Most important of all, my daughter had a blast!!! She ran around the park joyfully for the first time in more than a year! She was so relieved and empowered to hear so many stories, to see so many survivors!
I realized then, that we would participate in the walk every year and grow our team from that of two to that of many.
This is where my story actually BEGINS! It is a story of SURVIVAL! It is a story of the absolute COMMITMENT to putting an end to this disease once and for all.
IF WE DO NOT FIND A CURE, 10 MILLION WOMEN WORLDWIDE COULD DIE IN THE NEXT 25 YEARS! CHILDREN WILL LOOSE THEIR MOMS AND HUSBANDS WILL LOSE THEIR WIVES!
This December marks three years of survivorship for my family and me. I now refer to myself as a thriver rather than a survivor, because I chose to work hard to raise the money necessary to advance medical research, rather than to just sit back and passively survive!
Although my medical tests are frequent, I have moved forward and live my life basically as it was before. Except, I have immerged as a much stronger person. With my tumor markers being done every three months until I reach five years post diagnosis, this can be difficult at times. This is because I am a genetic carrier, which necessitates more frequent testing. So life can be a little like a rollercoaster, anticipating my test date coming up, waiting for results and finally getting good results, a time I refer to as party time!