I was diagnosed with breast cancer just weeks after learning about my pregnancy. That journey – one of extremes – would change the trajectory of my future. Not just my life as a mom and wife, but also my career; and ultimately, my life’s mission.
Finding an oncologist willing to treat me while pregnant was the first hurdle. Months of chemotherapy, surgeries, and just daily life as a bald woman in the winter was a tricky thing. Navigating the tumultuous waters of working full-time, reams of insurance paperwork, and the sheer magnitude of the fear that found its way into my daily existence caused inconceivable stress. HOWEVER: I prayed (and continue to pray) that there might be a bigger purpose to my life and that of my child.
After the birth of my son (he’s safe, strong, and healthy) and following my treatments, my doctor told me that most patients fall into one of two categories. They either want to resume their lives quietly and stay in the shadows, or they see this journey as fuel to a previously unknown fire. He told me I fall into the latter group, and that I should absolutely tell my story – often and loudly. Thus began my speaking career…right there, with a glamorous paper gown, missing several body parts, and hairless.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be appointed as the Executive Director of the Pink Power Mom Network (a group of young moms/breast cancer patients/advocates/superheroes). When my cancer returned, I was able to lean on this network and turn to them for compassion, advice, and the occasional motivational kick in the pants.
As a speaker, author, and advocate, I am incredibly honored to be a part of the Department of Defense (DoD) Breast Cancer Research Program as a consumer reviewer. This work is a beautiful way for me to be able to express my love of country and my passion to find a cure at the same time. I’ve learned so much from the other panel members and about the amazing (and hope-filled!) research that is happening around the globe. What an honor it is to sit beside such luminaries – physicians, oncologists, researchers; all are such gifted scholars. I find that after I leave one of the DoD sessions, I am well equipped to go out and continue speaking and offer consulting to others with cutting-edge knowledge about the future of cancer research and medicine.
Healthcare is on the precipice of being re-written by this program – and I am very honored to be a part of that change.
Last updated Tuesday, October 16, 2018