Dec 4, 2015 was the worst day of my perfect life. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at the young age of 39.
"How could this happen to me?" I couldn't help but wonder. I had it all- a great childhood with loving and supportive parents. I married my best friend and had a loving daughter. I had a fulfilling 18-year career at JPMorgan Chase. I didn't know what bad luck or hard times were because I never experienced either. I was also the person who thoughtfully mapped out each and every move in my life in order to get whatever I want. Getting sick did not fit my plan!
My world crashed even further a few weeks later when I learned that the cancer had metastasized to my bones. I spent weeks confused and distraught. After all, things like this aren't supposed to happen to people like me.
Finally my husband said something to me that really hit home. "People die tragically and unexpectedly every day. You never know what can happen at any time. But God has given you a chance. You can do whatever you want with that chance". Those words snapped me out of disarray and got me focused on next steps. I chose chemotherapy, then surgery & radiation. I was young and wanted to be as aggressive as possible because knew I could handle it.
I've seen this disease ruin the livelihoods and take the lives of so many women as the median life expectancy is only 2-3 years. Why so short? There aren't enough treatments options. Stage IV is so underfunded and without research, those stats won't change and 114 people will continue to die each day from this fatal disease.
I took my husbands words very seriously and decided to use my leadership and planning skills to fund raise for Stage IV, educate and increase awareness. Every birthday is a milestone for us Stage IV'ers so I started an annual fundraiser called "MetaBash" on my birthday to raise money for METAvivor. I chose METAvivor as they are the only national organization that exclusively supports Stage IV research that benefits patients living with metastatic breast cancer through a peer-reviewed grant process. 100% of every donation made to METAvivor goes directly to research.
It took me a while to realize this but cancer is one of the best things that has happened to me. I've eliminated stress in my life and because of that, I'm living the best life I've ever lived. I stop to smell the roses I never had time to even look at before. I spend more time with my daughter and cherish every moment. I take great care of myself by eating healthy and exercising. And for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm making a difference in this world.
So I guess I was wrong all along- things like this ARE supposed to happen to people like me!