In 2014, I was waitressing when one of my regulars suggested I go to the doctor to have my cough checked out. I went to the doctor and found out, yes, I had a tumor, and it was cancer. My two friends came with me, and we stood outside and cried. I was scheduled for surgery; I had to have a thoracotomy to remove my center and lower right lobes.
I was then sent for chemo. My family and friends rallied around me as I lost my hair and was sick from side effects like neuropathy and tinnitus. My first cat scan came back fine, but my second saw something suspicious in my left lung. I had a needlepoint biopsy that showed it was another cancerous tumor. The second round of chemo was much stronger. I had the same side effects, plus more.
When my head and neck aches became too painful, I went to the emergency room. The doctor came over, looked down at me with tears in his eyes and said, “You have cancer of the brain.” I had four tumors on my brain. My then 17 year-old daughter came with me to my radiation oncologist where he told me I had stage four metastasized lung to brain cancer with a five-percent survival rate and only about six months to live.
Needless to say, my daughter and I went home and cried for three nights about all the experiences I would miss in her life: graduation and becoming a grandmother. Then I stopped crying and remembered that I needed to stay strong. I had a whole brain radiation that came with even more side effects. I was foggy and didn’t have great balance.
But that was July 2016. Here I am March 3, 2018 with hair on my head, happiness in my heart and hope to give to other cancer survivors like me. Iâ€™m grateful that in the midst of all this, a friend of mine attended a Team Tony fundraiser. At the time, I couldnâ€™t afford doctor bills. They helped me with bills, gave me gas cards and arranged rides to my treatments.
And my teammate, Erin, supported me through some difficult times. When I was having scan anxiety, I called her crying saying, â€œI donâ€™t want to die, I donâ€™t want to die, I donâ€™t want to die!” She talked me through it. Team Tony is a great organization that Iâ€™m proud to be a part of. Thank you very much!