My story with breast cancer can be seen as
a tragic one.
But instead, I want people to see it as hopeful and inspiring.
Cancer is part of my life but it doesn’t define me.
At first I did not get involved in support groups or advocacy work.
But a few years into my new life with cancer, I became more aware and outspoken and learned the power of sharing my story.
AND HOW I BECAME AN ADVOCATE
MY JOURNEY SO FAR
My story with breast cancer can be seen as tragic. But instead, I want people to see it as hopeful and inspiring. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 while pregnant. To my surprise, chemo during pregnancy is the standard of care. I delivered a healthy baby boy with a head full of hair while I had no hair at all. After he was born, I did tests I couldn’t do while pregnant and we discovered the cancer had already spread to my brain, liver, and bones. After trying different drugs and finding the right one for me, the cancer started to respond to the therapy. There were (and still are) many setbacks: most drugs don’t penetrate the brain, many drugs harm the heart, the side effects can be debilitating and my illness has taken a huge emotional toll on me and my loved ones. But I’m still a dynamic, loving 35-year-old woman. And at every moment since my diagnosis, I was still LIVING. Cancer is part of my life but it doesn’t define me.
My new reality of living with this disease has opened my eyes to the inequities in breast cancer. Did you know that the share of the money obtained in pink campaigns that goes to research on metastatic breast cancer is negligible compared to where the rest of the money goes?
Or that breast cancer mortality is 40 percent higher for African Americans? Metastatic breast cancer is the only breast cancer that kills and research is the only effort that truly helps patients do what we want to do - LIVE! That is not pink!
That’s why I decided to get involved in advocacy. It has been a very rewarding experience.
I especially enjoy being in touch with researchers and showing them the side of breast cancer they often can only imagine - the life of a patient. After a recent collaboration with a researcher, he told me “Regardless of whether we meet again, I want you to know I have been moved by your profound fighting spirit and it is making me redouble my efforts within my research.”
My goal is to make an impact while I am here in the lives of others dealing with this disease.
I am a member of Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Hear My Voice, class of 2018 and of Georgetown Breast Cancer Advocates, a group of advocates at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Cancer Center, working with researchers, clinicians and other stakeholders
to ensure research is patient-centered, innovative and accessible.
I have participated in ASCO guidelines panels, am a consumer reviewer for the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program and am a recipient of the 2018 Alamo Foundation SABCS Scholarship.
Additionally, I am an active member of two local support groups and of Facebook closed groups for metastatic breast cancer patients.
Affiliations and Memberships
That patients need to have a voice in research
In the power of science and technology
In accurate & true information
In bonds between people