“I’m a Breast Cancer Survivor!” I never thought I would say those words! I sat in the doctor’s office, my loving husband Ken beside me, awaiting the news that would change my life forever. When the doctor said, “you have cancer,” I stopped listening. I couldn’t hear anything besides the hundreds of questions booming through my mind -How could I have breast cancer? No one in my family had ever had breast cancer, so how could this be happening to me?
My doctor went on to explain the aggressive nature of Stage IV Triple Negative Breast Cancer, and the insurmountable odds I was fighting against. I immediately thought of my family and children. With my youngest being only 6 years old at the time, I couldn’t bear to leave them, and I became determined to fight. Cancer didn’t know who it was dealing with when it decided to pick on me!
From the day of my diagnosis, November 2003, I decided there was only one way I was going to survive this disease: with positivity, love and laughter. In spite of the tremendous darkness I have faced, including 37 surgeries, many infections, 1 code blue, 2 rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, and the piling up of medical bills, I had the pleasure of meeting many angels along my journey. These angels have become my lifelong friends, and I could not imagine my life without them. I had a greater support system than most, there was my husband Ken, our daughters Ashleigh, Kathryn, and Katelyn, my mom and dad when they were alive, and Bosom Buddies, a support group founded by Linda Burrowes. My personal buddy was Rose Jacobson who has practically become part of the family. There are so many wonderful people who have impacted my journey every step of the way and I truly believe that they are what made all the difference in the world.
There were many times I felt like I could not go on, when it felt like this disease was crushing me, but then I would realize: I have too much to fight for. With time, I realized cancer was a blessing to me; it changed my life in ways I could have never imagined. My fight gave me the courage to accomplish things I could never have dreamed of—like crossing the finish line at the Race for the Cure or speaking before an audience of thousands. I have become a speaker and advocate, participating in and coordinating cancer research and awareness events all over the South Florida area. I work to ensure that no one else will have to hear the words “you have cancer.” Through this disease, I have found my passion for helping others. Cancer gave me the power to change the world, one day at a time.
I will continue to fight, never give up, and help anyone I can, while making sure that cancer isn’t the end of my story.