September 22, 2015
As I sit here with a very nice glass of red in my hand, looking over my PET/CT scan from yesterday, I reflect on the toughest 4 years of my life fully knowing it’s only going to get more difficult, with harder decisions to make and well, tougher…. then SO SHALL I.
4 Years ago today I was diagnosed with a late stage Breast Cancer. Pretty heavy shit at 37 years old. Heavy shit at any age.
4 YEARS AGO TODAY I went running before work. Like 3 miles, then went to my job I truly enjoyed at CCNN. I was the Director of the HIM (Health Information Management) Program. I worked to change the understanding of what Medical Records does (the program and hospitals/private physician dept.) and their purpose. I’d hope to help students find a career in HIM, the way I did. I learned so much during my tenure there and still have long lasting friendships. I fully knew what was going to happen after my emergency biopsy 2 days prior but still I believed. Some call it Hope. But I knew my purpose then. I was almost living it already, almost making a difference.
Now? I’m not working (for a paycheck); I can barely walk up 3 flights of stairs before stopping to catch my breath and sometimes simply getting out of bed requires more energy than my body has. Running is out of the question yet I continue to Facilitate? Empower? Demand? a change in knowledge, education and recognition of …… Metastatic Breast Cancer.
I currently get weekly chemotherapy treatments. I schedule my family, friends, exercise, sleep, conferences, personal and social life around chemo. It is a life style change when you have been diagnosed with an incurable disease. Completely manageable but not exactly compatible with a single person who says ‘fuck cancer’ . Weekly doctor’s appointments, blood tests (my ANC (absolute neuthrophil count) tests rule my world), uh-oh’s and oh-shit’s that happen between scans because I’m a scanner. That means my cancer blood markers (everyone has them) does’t show I have metastatic breast cancer however, it’s there per PET/CT scans.
It has been a looong 4 years with dose dense chemo, radiation treatments, bi-lateral mastectomies, numerous reconstructive surgeries, brain and liver metastatic scares, rib fracture and removal, a collapsed lung, summer pneumonia, a 6 month left hip hick-up and a possible MRSA infection. I’ve experienced significant set-backs with exhaustion, nausea, energy loss and dehydration in the most inconvenient times. However, I’ve kissed Patrick Dempsey, interviewed with Joan Lunden, Hugged Jimmy Fallon, vacationed through a handful of states with friends and family making “MEMORIES” before I can’t anymore, whilst validating my presence in our nation’s capital and my state’s legislation ensuring I’d make a difference in policy and healthcare insurance change.
While I wish NO ONE to have a cancer diagnosis…. should they be diagnosed, I only wish they can see the light, maybe a flame from a light….like during a concert (no I-phones allowed), I wish or hope they could see it the way I do…. a challenge and not a death sentence. They are gonna be okay… I am gonna be okay…. everything is gonna be okay, the way it is suppose to be.
I am now a bottle deep in fabulous red wine and feeling quite happy about my last PET/CT scan…. So Salud’ and Thank you for being apart of this adventure!