Well, here is my story:
You think it will never happen to you! Well, it does, and in spades! The universe tests you – constantly! In fall of 2015, two days before I was to take our daughter to dressage championships in Lexington, VA, my husband came home from work that evening and met us at our barn prepping for championships and pulled me aside and told me the news. I have stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I literally don’t remember the next few seconds. He said, “I will fight this with everything I have and want you to remember to never stop living”! Our amazing daughter won reserve champion at championships and never knew the news till we returned and told our 3 children. That spring, on my birthday, I was diagnosed with stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer with lymph nodes involved on my right breast and armpit. WHY? That question will never be answered. My husband was with me through the diagnosis, tests, and anxiety that follows, while going through his experimental treatment at John’s Hopkins. I am extremely lucky to have an awesome tribe around me, some of which are oncology nurses and doctors who helped me navigate what my journey was to be like. After discussions with my oncologist and surgeon, I opted for a double mastectomy with no reconstruction. Chemotherapy was to be the first phase in hopes that it would shrink the tumor for surgical removal. While I was going through my treatment, my husband was deteriorating and several times a week John’s Hopkins was our destination. Our family “never stopped living” and neither did my husband, who made it to every horse show my daughter was in! There were several “bucket list” trips thrown in that my husband wanted as well, while he was able. Our children are a source of strength and hope and are to this day! Our daughter graduated high school with high honors, our middle son graduated college, there were horse shows, treatments, medical emergencies, and eventually hospice. My husband fought the battle with humor and strength for 11 months and left us July 2016. Then my surgeon and my oncologist gave me the news that the chemo worked and we could schedule surgery for September 2016! While in chemotherapy, you can’t help but bond with your chemo buddies! The strength of the human spirit is unstoppable and inspiring! The plan was to give my body 4 weeks to recover from chemotherapy before surgery, so naturally I took my daughter back to dressage championships! Never, never stop living! It truly gives you a focus and goal! So, before surgery, I naturally had a going away party for my “Ta-Ta’s”! My sister and brother-in-law flew in from CA to be with me for the surgery. My surgical team was entirely female! I got the news the next day that the surgery was a success and that the next month would be my recovery and to start physical therapy for range of motion to prepare for radiation treatment. Again, goals! The next stage was radiation therapy weekly for 4 months. I had several side effects while undergoing my radiation therapy, but overall I have no complaints about my treatment. Throughout my journey and treatment, you just keep going, perpetual motion, focus, positive thoughts and actions. It’s what worked for me. I continue to “never stop living” each and every day! I am back to riding and competing my horse, I have my healthy lifestyle back, I work out, go to massage therapy, take Pilate’s & yoga, travel, and most importantly have my family and tribe! I truly am one of the lucky ones!