I am a breast and lung cancer survivor and I know that I am a lucky duck (one of my mothers favorite expressions) because my cancers (lung and breast) were detected early and unrelated. I had two surgeries in 6 weeks, 6 rounds of chemotherapy and 33 days of radiation one year, 9 months and 1 day ago, and today I am cancer-free.
I have always taken care of myself, tried to eat right and quit smoking over 30 years ago. I have exercised regularly for over 28 years with my Jazzercise family who were with me 24/7 over that year holding my hand and cheering me on every step of the way. They also watched closely as I led the way having the unasked for distinction of being the first person in the family to have cancer and openly sharing it with them. It was an eye opening experience for us all knowing that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer. I am humbled to have the honor to be the leader showing everyone that your life can continue normally (without hair, with chemo and radiation) and also delighted to be the Team Captain of this exceptional group of women and men who continue to raise funds for the American Cancer Societys Relay for Life at Baptist Hospital.
Having been involved with several not-for-profit cancer organizations over the past many years, I have seen first-hand how the odds for survival have improved dramatically. Many years ago, my favorite aunt had a double mastectomy, later got leukemia and died shortly thereafter. It was a devastating experience for an 18-year old who to this day remembers.
My real family is the very best. My sisters, their husbands, my niece and nephew and their extended families, my other families of friends, have been with me every single day of this journey. What a shocking experience for a healthy group it actually happened to one of us!!! My mother died of lung cancer that had spread to her bones but she was older and sadly, had to suffer at the end.
C-A-N-C-E-R is a very scary word:
· Education lessens the fear,
· Early detection increases survival,
· Family, friends and faith provide support and,
· A positive attitude wins the battle.
In my current position as the Development Manager for the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation (the end license plate people), I know that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be touched by cancer in their lifetime. Research, education and early detection saved my life. As a survivor it is my responsibility and my privilege to have the opportunity to give back and support those who will come after me. By raising funds and increasing awareness, there will be a lot more lucky ducks like me in the years to come.
And of course, I am the luckiest duck of all because I am a Survivor!